Continued Education: Staying Ahead of the Curve

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcoholism leads to poor outcomes for workers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) reported 68.9 percent of total drug users are employed and work a job. The problem of addiction seems to be widespread throughout different workplaces in the United States. The task usually falls upon the human resources professionals to help address the various addictions of their workers. It might not be an easy task to deal with.

Researchers have discovered 10 to 20 percent of American workers who die at work test positive for drug or alcohol use. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development found 1/3 of all employees are aware of the sale of drugs within the workplace itself. Despite startling facts, addiction can still continue in the workplace. Many professionals might not be aware of how widespread addiction is. However, there could be hope yet for the workplace.

To address the troubles of addiction in the workplace there are many options available for human resource managers. Even after an employee receives the treatment they need it could be helpful to continue the education of addiction and recovery. The various ways of addressing addiction could prove vital in stop any future employees from suffering from an addiction.

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Drug Testing

Drug testing can be typical among large companies who can afford to do such testing. Yet, it might be difficult for smaller companies to do so because they may not have the necessary funds for it. Researchers found many drug users actually apply to employers who do not have any drug testing. Drug testing has proven to have benefits for the entire workplace. Some benefits include:

  • Decline in workplace accidents
  • Less employee burglary
  • Productivity grows
  • Less turnover of employees
  • Cheaper insurance
  • Morale among employees grows

Employers can find these benefits take shape after implementing them. While it might be a challenge to weed out any employees cheating drug tests, your company may function better and you could see fewer troubles taking place by utilizing drug testing and paying attention to the signs of addiction.

Educate Yourself on Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Signs

Knowing what to look for can save a lot of time and energy when learning to deal with addiction in the workplace. Many human resources professionals may not know which signs are present when one of their employees suffers from an addiction.

It could be helpful to consider the various signs of addiction:

  • Exhaustion
  • Absent frequently at work
  • Paranoid about many things
  • Constant mood swings
  • Eyes in a daze


There are various treatment options for addicts. Inpatient options require the patient to stay for a determined period of time, typically 30 days. Outpatient programs can be beneficial for addiction in the workplace as they require patients to meet multiple times a week after work for treatment. Outpatient programs discuss addiction and how to cope without using substances, they also drug test their patients.

Different treatment methods are as just as diverse as the workforce. It is important to stay educated on the most effective treatment options, as they may very on a case by case bases.


Educating yourself on addiction recovery can be helpful for not only your employee who is struggling, but for all of your employees as well. Recovery has to do with positive ways to cope with the stresses of life without turning to drugs or alcohol. This may play a role in your addiction prevention program

You might be able to prevent a lot of addiction in the workplace by heeding these signs. If you can nip a spawning addiction in the bud, the company could be much more productive than it ever was before.

Putting Together an Addiction Prevention Program

Employers might find it helpful to create an addiction prevention program. It could help to stop any sort of drug or alcohol addiction from taking place. Your program may need a detailed list of rules and regulations pertaining to how drug and alcohol abuse is dealt with at the company. As a human resources professional, you can make clear what illegal drugs are and what the consequences of abusing them are. In addition, it may be best to include a few other items for the program:

  • Policies focused on handling disobeying rules and regulations pertaining to drug and alcohol use in the workplace
  • A 21st-century drug testing program focused on preventing drug use in the office
  • Prevention strategies taken to make sure employees do not abuse alcohol or drugs

The best thing could be is a company's addiction prevention program evolves into an employee assistance program. It can be offered to the employees who think they have an addiction problem or could be developing one. Such an initiative allows employees to go to you to seek help. It might also provide you the chance to address the addiction troubles through different workshops or seminars.

Understanding Employee Protections

While the US federal government enacted federal workplace drug testing via Executive Order 12564 and Public Law 100-71, there are many other laws and regulations, which pertain to how an employee be treated when suffering from an addiction. As a human resources professional, you might wish to be aware of a few of these rules:

  • Americans With Disabilities Act. The act states employees, who suffer from addiction but do not abuse drug or alcohol anymore, are “individuals with disabilities.” They are protected from discrimination in the workplace legally if they are seeking treatment for their addiction. It does not protect employees who currently abuse substances.
  • Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The law mandates insurance groups offer coverage for mental health or substance abuse disorders.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. The regulation allows certain employees to deal with treating drug or alcohol addiction in addition to other physical illnesses or family members suffering from either.

These are a few basic acts, which mandate how employers handle employees with drug or alcohol addiction. It can be helpful to educate yourself on them as well as your employees. Alerting your employees to such protections could prevent them from abusing substances or might make them feel more comfortable about seeking help.