Employees and Drug Addiction – Workplace


Workplace must be accommodating enough to discourage drug addiction. Stressful set ups will only injure any meaningful gains made.

The reality of addiction related problems in the workplaces is becoming a common phenomenon and unless we positively come out to address it we will soon not have an economy to run as organization or nations. The prevalent of addiction cut across all sectors of life of both the individuals and the society and when it does it destroys one’s health, relationships, emotional well-being and this effects eventually finds their way in the workplace bringing very negative results. It is believed that majority of people struggling with addiction are employed in various sectors of the economy and because of this their performance is reduced to about two thirds in relation to those employees free from the scourge.

Various studies have established that prior to enrolling for treatment these employees were unproductive due to consistent absconding of duty, lateness or just lazing a round because of their addiction problems. This is a clear indication that employees addiction impacts negatively to their work performance which eventually translate to the inflated cost of doing business to their employers beside the dented reputation of the organization image and goodwill. In the interest of this it’s important to consider and understand the role of the workplace and the employer in the addiction recovery process. Therefore:

Why is it Difficult for Employees to Ask for Help?
It may not be easy for employees to seek for help for fear of being victimized by their employers and the related stigmatization. However employers should take note that support their employees with addiction problems to reach out for help not only benefits the employee in terms of their physical, emotional, and mental health but also benefits the organization in many productive ways.

The Benefits of Addiction Treatment

As indicated above helping employees with their addiction conditions in beneficial to both the employees and the employer as discussed below.

Benefits to an Employee and the Employer – when our mental health is good, we are able to cope with the hassles and stressors of everyday life. We are purposeful and productive. But our mental health is poor it can impact a variety of aspects of our lives. When someone is suffering from mental health problems or illness, such as a substance abuse problem or other type of addiction, the impact on the individual can be more pervasive and severe. Co-workers may perceive these types of individuals as difficult or unreliable, and this can create a very unpleasant work environment.

When mental health or other medical conditions become so severe, the individual may have to take a leave from work for an extended period of time. This can escalate:

  • Disability costs
  • Benefits utilization
  • Replacement costs and
  • Costs associated with lost productivity.

Failing to address the underlying mental health problems of the employee increases the likelihood of the individual developing recurring problems at work. However, with adequate intervention and an ongoing treatment strategy, someone suffering from a mental health illness such as an addiction can experience good mental health and an improved quality of life.

How Employers Can Help?
There are several ways an employee can benefit including some of the recommendations made by the Mental Health Commission of Canada which include the following steps to be taken by the employers at workplaces:

  • Health promotion and prevention of psychological issues at work
  • Early identification of psychological problems and optimal treatment of mental health conditions to reduce disability and to support a return to work strategy.

Early Intervention for Best Results
What makes the establishment of wellness programs even more imperative, is that research has demonstrated that individuals struggling with an addiction, on average wait thirteen and a half years before entering residential treatment. The goal therefore is, to intervene early with an employee who has a substance use or behavioral addiction problem, before it progresses and worsens over time. By establishing a non-punitive, supportive organizational culture involved in the psychological well-being of their employees, an organization can minimize the potential escalating costs associated with employees and their problematic substance use and behavior.

Treatment Benefits beyond Absenteeism, Tardiness and Productivity
Even though studies have established the above as some of the costs and benefits associated with addiction in the workplace, employers must not limit their evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of treatment based exclusively on workers’ absenteeism, tardiness and productivity. The economic benefit of addiction treatment goes beyond these variables to include reduction on-the-job errors, accidents and injuries, and reduced disability costs. Other benefits may include improved morale, decreased conflict among workers and reduced costs associated with dismissal, hiring and training. Depending on the workplace context, other potential benefits can also include reduced legal liabilities and minimizing potential negative impacts on organizational reputation and trust between stakeholders and clients.

However it is understandable that becoming involved in employees’ psychological well-being is not an easy feat for employers and when performance is affected, it’s difficult to have the tough talk. This is where adequate training and education for managers and employees would help organizations to overcome this potential barrier.

The Bottom-Line and Beyond
Appealing to “the bottom line” and outlining the economic benefits of addiction treatment has shown to be an effective way to engage employers in the recovery of their employees’ addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a primary neurological disease affecting brain reward, motivation, memory and its related circuitry. Because it is a chronic brain disease, addiction requires treatment and management over a lifetime unlike other chronic diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Addiction can be as devastating as any other illness and is classified as a disability by many employment legislations across the globe.

It is therefore very important to assist employees in their recovery process. Common barriers such as shame, organizational denial, and enabling behaviors of coworkers can prevent employees from seeking help for this medical and psychological problem. Employers need to understand the ways that their organizations may maintain these barriers and appreciate that employer involvement in the recovery process is beneficial for both the employee and the organization.

Effective addiction treatment that includes long-term continuing care and support from family and employers is a mutually beneficial solution to a problem that often permeates a variety of aspects of an individual’s life – including their work. So when it comes to your employees and addiction it is your business to liaise with reputable addiction professionals like doctor Dalal Akoury who founded AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center where addiction treatment is administered in total focus on Neuroendocrine Restoration (NER) to reinstate normality through realization of the oneness of Spirit, Mind, and Body, Unifying the threesome into ONE.

Employees and Drug Addiction – Workplace