When addiction infiltrates the workplace, it can have severe consequences, both for the individual struggling with addiction and the organization as a whole. The good news is recognizing the signs of addiction in the workplace can lead to early intervention, support, and treatment.
How Prevalent Is Addiction In The Workplace?
Addiction in the workplace is more common than most might think. According to reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 15 million American adults in the workforce struggled with alcohol use disorder in 2019. The 2019 U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that 9.5% of full-time adults between the ages of 18 to 64 used illicit drugs in the past month.
Why is addiction so prevalent in the workforce? Experts believe some industries, such as construction, mining, and hospitality, have easy access to substances. Other factors that contribute to addiction in the workplace include:
- Physically demanding work that leads to chronic pain and injuries, prompting substance use.
- High-stress environments that drive employees to use substances as a coping mechanism.
- Irregular work schedules that disrupt routines increasing the risk of substance abuse to stay awake, energetic, and alert
- Peer pressure and the normalization of substance use
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), addiction costs employers $81 billion annually in terms of lost productivity and absenteeism. The opioid crisis has also had a profound impact, leading to severe consequences in terms of job performance, absenteeism, and safety.
What Does Addiction In The Workplace Look Like?
Addiction can manifest differently for different people; however, seven of the most common signs of workplace addiction include:
1. Frequent Absenteeism. One of the first noticeable signs of addiction in the workplace is a pattern of frequent absenteeism. Employees grappling with addiction may frequently call in sick, arrive late, or take extended breaks throughout the day. These absences often coincide with their need to satisfy their cravings, use substances, or recover from the physical and emotional toll of their addiction.
2. Decline in Job Performance. Addiction can significantly impact an individual’s cognitive and physical abilities. Employees suffering from addiction may exhibit a noticeable decline in their job performance. They might make more errors, miss deadlines, or struggle to concentrate, causing disruptions and inefficiencies within the workplace.
3. Changes in Work Relationships. Addiction can lead to changes in an individual’s behavior and interpersonal relationships. Employees who are addicted may become increasingly isolated, irritable, or hostile towards their colleagues. Their once-strong work relationships may deteriorate as they prioritize their addiction over professional interactions.
4. Financial Troubles. Addiction can be financially burdensome, as individuals often spend a significant portion of their income on substances or addictive behaviors. If an employee is struggling with addiction, you may notice signs of financial distress, such as frequent requests for salary advances or loans from coworkers or even missing money or office property.
5. Mood Swings and Emotional Instability. Employees facing addiction often experience mood swings and emotional instability. They may exhibit extreme highs and lows, making their behavior unpredictable and challenging to manage. These emotional fluctuations can affect their performance and create a tense atmosphere in the workplace.
6. Neglect of Personal Hygiene and Appearance. Another visible sign of addiction is the neglect of personal hygiene and appearance. Employees who are addicted may not prioritize grooming and cleanliness, leading to disheveled clothing, poor personal hygiene, and an overall unkempt appearance. This can impact their professional image and create discomfort among coworkers.
7. Frequent Unexplained Disappearances. Employees dealing with addiction may frequently disappear from the workplace without a valid explanation. They may take extended breaks or leave the premises unexpectedly, often to satisfy their cravings or engage in addictive behaviors. These unexplained disappearances can disrupt workflow and raise suspicions.
Initiatives To Help Combat Workplace Addiction
Indiana, like many other states, has recognized the importance of addressing workplace addiction issues. Some of the most common initiatives to combat the issue include:
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). EAPs are workplace-based programs that offer confidential assessments, counseling, and referrals for employees dealing with addiction or other personal issues. These programs can provide vital support and resources to those in need.
- Legislation and Policies. Indiana may have specific laws or regulations that address substance abuse in the workplace, including policies related to drug testing, accommodations for employees in recovery, and anti-discrimination measures.
- The Indiana Workforce Recovery Initiative. This venture was founded to support businesses in building solutions to the opioid epidemic in their workplace and community. At the same time, this provides an opportunity for individuals to gain or retain the employment they need as part of their recovery effort.
- NextLevel Recovery. This initiative ensures Hoosiers receive the support they need. Partner organizations went virtual to continue providing peer recovery support, community outreach, telemedicine, naloxone, and suicide prevention training. Residential substance use disorder providers and recovery residences kept their doors open. Thanks to the quick work at the Division of Mental Health and Addiction and remarkable flexibility from Indiana’s federal partners, access to life-saving medication-assisted treatment was preserved.
- Collaboration with Employee Unions and Associations. Many initiatives involve working closely with employee unions and industry associations to address addiction issues effectively and ensure the well-being of workers.
Let Us Be Your Bridge Of Hope
Recognizing the signs of addiction in the workplace is essential for providing support and assistance to affected employees. Addiction is a complex and sensitive issue, and it is vital to approach it with compassion and understanding. If you notice any of the signs mentioned above in your workplace, consider starting a conversation with the affected individual and offering resources for seeking help, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and access to counseling and treatment services. By addressing addiction issues early, you can help individuals on their path to recovery and maintain a healthier, more productive work environment for all. Contact us today to speak to one of our recovery experts.