Addiction in the Workplace

If your answer is “yes” to any of the above questions, your solution could be identifying and addressing substance abuse in the workplace. Addressing health issues today is not merely a ‘virtuous circle’ but a hard economic factor with high stakes, as the following UK statistics highlight:

  • £7.3billion a year is lost in productivity due to alcohol (2009/10 costs)
  • Using US figures as a comparator, lost productivity from illicit drugs is a very close second
  • 14-20million working days are lost each year from alcoholism
  • 60% of workplace deaths are linked to alcohol
  • 40% of accidents are linked to alcohol
  • £30,614 is the average cost to recruit a single staff member, according to Oxford Economics.

There is also lost productivity from those around the person with the substance-abuse problem: for example, 14% of employees in one survey said they had to re-do work due to a co-worker’s drinking.

Moreover, upwards of half of working family members of alcoholics report that their own ability to function at work was negatively impacted by their family member’s drinking. There is even a book on this subject by New York Times bestseller Janet Geringer Woititz called Self-Sabotage Syndrome: Adult Children [of alcoholics] in the Workplace.

When organisations need to retain key employees, the returns on investment are inarguable. So why do too many people let these damaging behaviours go on too long?  Reasons include: fear, company culture, no procedures, perceived human rights, lack of knowledge and thus confidence to do anything, discomfort in change, and the misperception that it is easier to do nothing.

Despite denial, 76% of people with drug or alcohol problems are employed – firing them won’t make the problem go away, but addressing the core issues can yield improvements.

“A former star performer who seems to have fallen off the face of the earth will do everything possible to cover up the problem,” says Jeff Jay, co-author of Love First: A New Approach To Intervention for Alcoholism & Drug Addiction. “So first make sure you have all the facts. Review your company’s policy for alcohol or drug abuse. If you’ve decided that the person needs help, talk to other managers, consider calling in a professional then meet with the employee.”

During an intervention like this, you can expect the substance abuser to explain away his or her declining productivity with excuses and rationalisations that come down to one thing: ‘I’m not responsible’. Your job is to help them get back on track.

So where can you get the facts, the contacts, the resources?  To answer that, DB Recovery Resources presents: Professor Bevan, the Countess of Sandwich, Professor Oscar D’Agnone, Kevin Sabet and more in the Waldorf Hilton on 19 October. Click here to find out more about the full conference programme.


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