Drug and alcohol misuse by employees and employers has become common in recent years. It causes the organisation or industry various expensive problems. Alcohol is mostly responsible for employee absenteeism while drug misuse can attract severe issues like criminal charges since possession of some drugs is prohibited by the law.

Here we shall discuss the effects of drugs and alcohol misuse in and on the workplace. But, before that, how do you even know that you are misusing a certain substance?

  •         Regular craving for alcohol or drugs
  •         Inability to stop or limit intake
  •         Taking large amounts to feel some kind of effect  or commonly expressed ‘to get high.”
  •         Symptoms of withdrawal when you stop drinking or using the drug.
  •         Spending time on drinking or giving up activities to drink or take drugs.
  •         Drinking or Using drugs even after severe health problems.
  •         Not being able to stop.

If you are or know any of your colleagues at work experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you or that person must be familiar with how it affects work physically, mentally, and financially.  Here’s how drug and alcohol abuse can impact the workplace;

  1.   Loss of Productivity

In the UK, loss of productivity caused by alcohol abuse cost the economy about £7 billion annually.  Getting high or drunk at work would cause distraction and lack of concentration.  And also, repetitive tasks and poor delivery of service.

Even if you had a big night, you can still be drunk at work the next day. It is more than a hangover as it reduces your ability to do your job and exercise your expertise.

  1.   Lateness and Absenteeism

How is it possible to get to work early after a night of heavy drinking and drugs? An employee who has this addiction often arrives late or doesn’t show up at all. This will cause an inability to meet up project deadlines.

  1.   Cost of Health Insurance and Rehabilitation

Drug and alcohol abuse can cause frequent injuries, illness and at worse, mental imbalance amongst employees. This would cause the companies to spend excessively on treatments. An employee with substance abuse disorder can be destructive and clumsy. Hence, injuries sustained within working hours would have to be treated from the company’s purse.

Also, employees who have to visit the mental health clinic would incur the cost of rehabilitation for himself and sometimes the company.

  1.   Resentment amongst colleagues

Colleagues who have to carry the work burdens of those with drinking or drug misuse problems are likely to show resentments.  This is unhealthy for the growth of the company. It will cause other employees to overwork and sometimes keep up late at night to cover up for the lapses.

  1.   Bad Reputation

Alcohol and drug abuse enhance bad behavior and poor discipline in users. An employee’s misbehavior whether publicly or privately can tarnish the longtime good image of an organization. Also, drug-related activities in the workplace can attract severe punishment from the law.

As it was mentioned earlier, those who are connected to drug misuse often possess hard drugs like heroin, morphine, cocaine, and other illegal substance. This can attract criminal charges which in a long run reduces public acceptance and sales.

  1.   Dismissal and cost of recruitment

When there is consistently poor performance from an employee, dismissal becomes inevitable.  Many employees have lost their jobs for this reason but only a few understand that this dismissal also affects the employers and the organization.

There comes the need to organize training sections and counseling for newly employed workers. Recruitment incurs cost and also takes time. It can also slow down the company’s operation if the right replacement doesn’t come quickly.

How to prevent alcohol and drug misuse in the workplace.

  •         Employee assistance programs

Issues like this improve greatly when the parties involved take a proactive approach to quell the situation. Organizing talk shows and programs for substance abuse education for your employees can help avoid or improve the situation. Do not ignore and it is not advisable to discount employees with this issue, do the necessary follow up to make sure they get help.

  •         Adjust the work culture

Organizations dominated by men are more likely to have alcohol and drug problems. Studies have it that male-dominated companies create heavy drinking cultures as they drink to build solidarity or show conformity. Creating a blend of both genders can reduce the risk.

Pay special attention to your employees if your organization or industry renders food service, construction, mining and drilling, maintenance, and repair.

  •         Supervision

Employees who take the evening shift should be monitored are they are likely to drink at work. Casual drinkers should also not be overlooked as social drinkers can suffer from a hangover. Train some of your workers to act as watchdogs.

Supervision should not necessarily be done by the trained persons alone. Co-workers should also learn to speak up and report to colleagues who have this problem. This is because a co-worker’s poor performance would affect another worker.

  •         Reduce Availability

If employees have access to alcohol during breaks or are allowed to bring alcohol to the workplace. Then, there is a chance that they will misuse the opportunity once in a while. You can take the step to reduce availability in the workplace.

  •         Drug test and referral to treatment

Invite experts to conduct drug tests for employees from time to time. Try to make the test dates unscheduled and unannounced for better results. Employees whose results come positive should be referred to a treatment center for help.

Final Thoughts

Both employees and employers are responsible for maintaining discipline in the workplace. The duo is expected to avoid excessive intake or exposure to drugs and alcohol as it is detrimental to the success of any organization. Support your employees and co-workers who have substance abuse issues as they struggle through sobriety.

Overall, a little hangover has a great effect on your success as an employee or employer and can inhibit the productivity of the entire organization.