Employee use, misuse and abuse of substances can have a significant impact on the workplace. In addition to financial costs and productivity losses, which are substantial, substance use can affect the workplace in three ways: direct use, “hangover” effects and second-hand or indirect effects. Attention is often focused on preventing on-the-job use and the effects of direct use. However, hangover effects or indirect effects are often overlooked. It is important to consider and deal with all three ways that the use of alcohol or other drugs can affect the workplace.
Some warning signs that may indicate an employee is struggling with substance abuse are:
- Increased absenteeism: arriving late for work, missing work and leaving early
- Decreased productivity: not meeting deadlines, taking breaks, declined quality of work
- Uncommon behaviors: irritable, mood swings, negative attitude, easily upset
- Decreased social skills: conflicts with other co-workers, uncooperative, trouble listening to others
- Poor judgment: frequent mistakes, accidents
Substance use in workplaces is very common and can even be encouraged by the organizational culture and practices of a workplace. Overuse of substances like alcohol increases employee risk of high blood pressure, heart and liver dysfunction, and several types of cancer. It is important for employers to support their employees through policies and programs that assist employees who are suffering from addictions problems.
Policy Resources and other Programs
Downloadable materials for employees