Millions of people in the United States struggle with a substance use disorder, which means that this is rarely an issue that is confined to people’s personal lives. Instead, substance use disorders impact every aspect of a person’s life, including their work. 

When an employee has a substance use disorder, this can cause problems for their employer, but there are other serious risks. Statistics show that workplace deaths related to substance misuse have been on the rise. 

Workplace Deaths on the Rise Related to Substance Misuse

Fatal drug overdoses in the workplace have been soaring in recent years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace deaths overall topped 5,000 for the second consecutive year in 2017. Deaths related to overdoses went up by 55 employees in 2017, which presents a significant risk for employees and their employers. In 2017, there were also 272 unintentional overdose deaths due to the nonmedical use of alcohol or drugs at work, which was a 25.3 percent increase from the prior year. This was the fifth year in a row that this fatality rate increased by 25 percent or more. 

What You Need to Know About Workplace Addiction

Workplace addiction has become a pervasive issue. When employees misuse alcohol or drugs, this carries over into the workplace in the form of absenteeism, lost productivity, theft, injuries, fatalities and low employee morale. Other consequences include increased legal liabilities, health care costs, workers compensation costs and human resource issues. 

Substance use disorders are more prevalent in certain industries. These include construction, mining and drilling, excavation and food service. High-stress environments paired with repetitive work can encourage employees to normalize substance misuse as a means to cope or unwind. 

Unfortunately, this activity can quickly lead a person to develop a substance use disorder that requires treatment.

If you have been misusing substances in the workplace, addiction treatment is available.

What Help Is Available If You Have Misused Drugs on the Job?

While having a substance use disorder is not a personal choice, it can cause serious problems when left unaddressed. Employers are increasingly putting no-tolerance policies and drug-free workplace policies in effect for the safety and well-being of employees and clients alike.

If your employer offers an employee assistance program (EAP) or provides coverage for addiction treatment programs, take full advantage of these opportunities while they are available. Many employers now recognize that a substance use disorder is a disease and want to give their employees a chance at recovery. 

Many people who struggle with a substance use disorder worry about losing their job if they get help. The truth is that most employers already suspect that something is amiss with their employee and are unsure of how to help. In many cases, your employer would love to see you get the treatment so that you can once again be the productive person they hired. 


Bureau of Labor Statistics. “National Census of Fatal Occupation Injuries in 2017.” December 18, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2019.

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.