Substance Abuse in the Workplace

March 28th, 2011

Pressure from employers forcing their alcoholic and drug addicted employee’s into treatment for substance abuse has been proven to actually enhance rehabilitation’s effectiveness.
The mixture of drug addiction treatment and accountability is a powerful one.
Substance abuse in the workplace is a problem that faces many employers across the globe.  The complexity of this disease makes it difficult to define human resource policy that will treat the employee fairly while still protecting the interests of the business.
Furthermore, our best contemporary science believes that substance abuse disorders are a medical condition.  Therefore the question is raised as to whether substance abuse in the workplace should be seen as any other medical condition when it comes to disciplinary action.
The question of responsibility for the illness is answered by noting that even though the employee may not be responsible for their illness they are responsible for asking for help in dealing with it.  If left untreated substance abuse in the workplace can progress to a full blown addiction which in turn becomes ever more serious if left untreated.
It is fairly common for companies to institute disciplinary hearings for employees whose behaviour has been affected by substance abuse in the workplace.  The outcomes of these hearings may be deferred if the employee agrees to undergo treatment for their substance abuse problem.  Should the behaviour continue it is reasonable to claim that the employee has chosen to relapse onto their addiction and so for disciplinary procedures to continue.
Identifying employees who potentially have a problem with substance abuse in the workplace is sometimes a thorny issue.  Some companies elect to institute a random drug testing policy whereby they may ask employees for a urine sample.  There are several obvious problems with this, not least of which is staff privacy.
High functioning alcohol abusers are also more difficult to detect as they may not show the obvious signs that others do.  For a start their work performance is typically not degraded through their substance abuse in the workplace and similarly their levels of absenteeism are likely to be within normal limits.
Identifying substance abuse in the workplace is therefore not always as simple as one might expect.  It is also to be expected that the employee will deny that they have a problem.  Although this is understandable the denial will actually worsen the employee’s position.
If they deny that they have a problem with substance abuse in the workplace then they will need to provide plausible reasons for their behaviour or face disciplinary action.  An employee may be afraid to admit that they have a problem for fear of judgment, disciplinary action, and the social stigma attached to this disease.
Hiring an interventionist specialised in addictions and substance abuse treatment can really help your human resources department in managing this delicate situation.
An attempt should be made to bring the employee to understand that denying the problem will lead to possibly worse disciplinary action.  By working through their fears an interventionist could help them to become more willing to accept help for their problem with substance abuse in the workplace.
Finding the right intervention specialist can be tricky.  We have extensive international experience in helping people to accept their problem and seek substance abuse treatment.  Our intake coordinators have a wide knowledge of the field of addictions treatment and the best private centre’s throughout the UK, South Africa and Thailand.
Substance abuse in the workplace is an expensive problem for any business, but it can be solved.  Allow your business the opportunity to regain a productive employee and meet the legal requirements for disciplinary action.  Contact us today for specialised addictions advice.

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