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Substance abuse issues in the workplace are not uncommon. Every owner and employer should be aware of the warning signs that one of their employees may have a troubling addiction. According to recent studies, over 52 percent of the almost 19 million adults in the U.S. that are classified as having a substance abuse issue are employed.

Too often, employers miss the warning signs of addiction in the workplace for lack of knowledge. Take a second to read over this summary of a few ways to identify and address substance abuse and addiction issues in the workplace.

Research and gain base knowledge of common substances

Owners and leaders in the business world who are a bit inexperienced in the realm of substance abuse should spend some time researching common substances. There are certain abuse issues that tend to be regional. Know the most about the drugs that are most commonly an issue in the surrounding areas.

Here are a few government provided websites that focus on substance abuse education and awareness.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of America (SAMHSA)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA for Teens)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

Signs an employee may have a problem

Unfortunately, for the addict trying to hide their addiction, there are a few telltale signs of substance abuse issues in the workplace. Employers should take the time to observe employee behaviors if suspicions arise. Here are a few common signs of addiction at work.

  • Excessive attendance issues.
  • Performance issues
  • Strained work relationships
  • Behavioral problems
  • Ways to effectively address the situation

    If an employer suspects an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol, there are a few ways to approach the situation constructively.

  • Schedule a private meeting with the employee.
  • Be careful and utilize an empathetic approach.
  • Be prepared for a whole bunch of denial tactics.
  • Consider an intervention if the situation becomes dire.
  • Offer support and assistance with the addiction.

What to do if an employee is under the influence at work

If it comes to an encounter where an employee is clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work, action must be taken. Supervisors have the power to immediately alert the company’s employee assistance program to be ready to educate the employee on the company’s EAP services.

Employees who are intoxicated or under the influence at work should immediately be removed from their duties and sent home to sleep it off. Avoiding a hostile approach is important. Instead, address the employee with respect and a desire to provide help for the addiction.

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