Kevin Morris 5m 1,171 #drugabuse
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
When drug abuse affects the workplace, various outcomes can take place. This makes things challenging for employees who may be struggling with a substance use disorder but don’t know what options are available, including those that allow them to keep their jobs. While not all companies have the same protocols in place, more options are available for employees than they might realize. Here’s how some companies help employees who struggle with substance abuse.
Many companies today have drug testing policies in place. But besides random drug tests or protocols related to workplace accidents, many employees may never get tested for drug use after their initial hiring period. Even if they did, these tests would account for people who regularly use alcohol or for the millions who make their addiction to prescription stimulant drugs a normal part of their work productivity.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought to light many unforeseen struggles for business owners and employees alike. While these struggles include more familiar topics like layoffs, shutdowns, and remote working, there is another struggle we should pay careful attention to—the rising problem of drug abuse in the workplace. With the rise in overdose deaths and reports of over 75% of individuals with SUD belonging to the working class, ongoing state legalization of substances such as marijuana, and decriminalization of other drugs, companies can no longer afford to be indifferent to the complexities of drug abuse.
Currently, several drug and substance use-related laws are enforced in workplaces, such as the Controlled Substances Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Drug-Free Workplace Act. However, these do not provide clear instructions to handle the issue of SUD, nor do they help employers navigate through the difficulty of state versus federal drug decriminalization.
This issue remains a problem because of the workplace laws that must be maintained between employers and employees. The Society for Human Management (SHRM) lists some of the more recognized acts that have been put into place, such as the Controlled Substances Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Drug-Free Workplace Act.
When alcohol, tobacco, illicit, and prescription drug abuse are combined, estimates range around an estimated $81 billion in lost workplace productivity due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover, according to researchers from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD). Even though companies have their own legal requirements to maintain in the workplace, they cannot afford to remain inactive in the SUD problem as it continues to intersect with the working world. Fortunately, there are options for employees who are worried about the threat of losing their job.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Workplace Supported Recovery (WSR) Program provides employees with a work environment that avoids the kind of hazards that typically result in accidents and prescription drug abuse in the workplace and programs that provide employees with assistance in recovery, either in an outpatient setting that allows them to keep their jobs or an inpatient setting where they can eventually return to work from.
Employees should be sure to carefully look over their employee health benefits, as many companies have coverage available for substance abuse treatment. Other examples include how restaurants are adapting to their work culture, whose employee demographic ranks as having one of the highest substance abuse rates in all industries.
Delaware has a coalition of food chain employers who are training their employees to treat drug overdoses and helping their employees know what kinds of SUD treatment facilities are nearby. Hypertherm, a New Hampshire company, has made a reputation for hiring employees with a history of homelessness or drug addiction, two components that regularly overlap. The company aims to provide people with a quality of life and income that can help them get out of the vicious cycle of abuse. Hypertherm identifies as a “recovery friendly workplace,” meaning they are committed to fostering a supportive environment that encourages success and recovery in their employees.
The issue of whether to tell an employer about a substance abuse struggle is not always a cut-and-dry issue. It is important to become familiar with the company’s drug and alcohol policy and health care policy. However, if we are struggling with addiction, the worst thing we can do is keep it to ourselves. Not only does this rob us of our chance for treatment and recovery, but it also puts us in a place where we are just waiting to make a decision that will cost us our jobs altogether.
Honesty is always the best pathway. There are employers that would appreciate and support an employee’s initiative to recover from substance abuse rather than finding out after a substance-related work incident. Employers and employees alike have a great responsibility to combat the ongoing risk of substance abuse. There are encouraging trends in today’s work world, and many options don’t default to job termination.
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