Employees Impact Workplace Addiction

Three powerful ways employees can impact addiction at their workplace. Employees can have a significant impact on addiction in the workplace, particularly if drug or alcohol policies are lacking. If a co-worker with an addiction becomes problematic for the rest of the staff and management does nothing about it, then it may be left to the employees themselves to deal with the issue. Listed here are some steps you, as an employee, can take to combat addiction in the workplace.

Let consider three powerful ways employees can impact addiction at their workplace:

(1) Share Information With Managers

It is possible that managers are simply unaware of the addicted employee or the extent of his or her addiction and how it has impacted the work environment. The first thing a concerned staff member should do is report the drug or alcohol abuse to a manager. The manager then has a responsibility to handle the problem.

If you are a manager or a Human Resources professional dealing with addiction in the workplace and don't know what to do, you need to undergo training and bring that training back to your place of business.

In order to effectively combat addiction in the workplace you must:

• Know how to identify addiction or substance abuse
• Know how to discuss the issue with your employees
• Be able to identify treatment options or resources for your employee
• Develop a policy on drug and alcohol or substance abuse in the workplace

(2) Utilize Workplace Resources

If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or other resources available to combat addiction problems, make sure the addict knows how to access them. Many EAPs offer counseling services along with referrals to specialists or local resources. If you are comfortable with the idea, approach the person and ask if they are aware of these resources. If they are not, help them learn how to use these company-provided resources. You may also take a less direct route to helping your addicted co-worker by sharing information about addiction and addiction-related resources in the community with the entire group. This is a good option for people who are not comfortable approaching their addicted co-worker directly.

(3) Use Your Actions to Speak Volumes

Your actions can have an impact on how addiction problems are addressed in your workplace. In fact, your actions may be the most effective form of communication you can offer. Individually or as a group, employees who value a drug and alcohol-free workplace can refuse to participate in work functions where drugs or alcohol are tolerated. Voice your dissent and let others know that these events encourage destructive behavior.

If you encounter an addicted employee who is having problems fulfilling his or her job duties, do not cover up for them. Covering up for an addict only enables their addiction. It also creates an uncomfortable work environment for co-workers who are in the know about the addiction. Additionally, covering up has the appearance of acceptance of drug or alcohol abuse in the workplace.

What you can and should do instead is encourage all of the employees to work together and help each other. Support each other in your efforts to create a safe drug and alcohol-free workplace. Work together to help the addict overcome his or her addiction. And work together to develop the drug and alcohol policies your company needs.

It is only when effective and enforced policies are in place that a company can truly combat addiction in the workplace.

Further Resources:

Learn more about utilizing the Family Medical Leave Act for addiction recovery.

About the Author:

Alan Goodstat, LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, received his Masters in Social Work at Columbia University in New York City. He's now a Director of Performance Improvement for a Behavioral Hospital System and contributes to the addiction treatment site RecoveryConnection.org . He wrote a chapter on substance abuse in the book Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding Teenagers With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

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