When left unaddressed, addiction in the workplace can be dangerous and costly for organizations as well as for the people struggling with substance abuse. Since more than 70 percent of people with an alcohol or drug use disorder maintain employment, this is a serious issue. Opioid addiction alone costs employers $2.6 billion per year, which represents an eightfold increase over the past 14 years.

When employees are addicted, they cost companies money in lost productivity, increased injuries and accidents, and higher healthcare expenses. Employers may want to help their workers who have a problem but may not know where to start. Here are five tips for handling addiction in the workplace.

1. Educate Employees

If your business wants to address drug abuse and addiction, it can do so most effectively by implementing some tried and true programs. This includes having a drug-free workplace and policies related to drug testing. When you do this, you will need to inform and educate employees about the new policies as well as the dangers of substance abuse.

2. Recognize the Signs of Addiction

Your company’s management team should understand how to recognize the signs of substance abuse in the workplace. Some common signs include frequent absences or tardiness. An employee may also become moody or volatile, or suddenly lose interest in work altogether even when he or she shows up.

3. Document Suspicious Behavior

When there is suspicious activity, or you receive a report from another employee, it is important to keep documentation. If you can have more than one employee or manager corroborate the signs, this will be better for your records. You may not need these documents to fire an employee, but they might be useful when you counsel the employee or ask him or her to get addiction treatment.

4. Address Issues Appropriately

If you suspect that employees have an alcohol or drug abuse issue, address it as soon as possible. If they are working in an area that deals with customers or that could cause harm to others, move them immediately. Let the employees know that you are concerned and offer them a ride home instead of sending them off in their own vehicle.

5. Develop a Plan for Addiction Treatment

If your employees have a substance abuse problem, they need professional help to stop. Giving them pats on the back or a week’s vacation to “get their head on straight” is not going to produce a lasting change. Many addicts avoid getting the help they want and need because they fear losing their job or career. If you can provide some assurances, they may be more willing to commit to a rehab program.

Get Qualified Addiction Treatment Help for Your Employee Now

As a business owner, you may be worried about your bottom line results, but the health and well-being of your employees is a concern as well. When you have employees who are dealing with substance abuse, the first thing you should do is direct them to qualified addiction treatment.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.