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Understanding the Urge to Do Drugs on the Job

Drugs on the Job: The Prevalence of Substance Abuse at Work

They say there are a time and a place for everything. But for those who struggle with substance use disorder, it can feel impossible to control the urge to use drugs or drink, regardless of the time or place. Even in situations when it is obviously inappropriate to consume substances that alter your ability to function, addiction can push you into risky behaviors. This is true for professional settings as much as it is in personal or social interactions. Still, the prevalence of people abusing drugs or alcohol at work continues to increase.

Substance use disorder in an incredibly complex condition. While most people would avoid risking their safety or their livelihood for a quick fix, people who suffer from addiction face an overwhelming urge that is hard for those who have never felt it to understand. One way experts define addiction is the inability to stop using, even when it is harmful to your life. In other words, even when people want to be responsible employees, their addiction can override those instincts.

So how serious is substance abuse in the workplace? What drugs are most common, and how do professionals get help?

Studying Substance Abuse at Work

Now there is a new survey from that takes a closer look at the impact of drug and alcohol use in the workplace. More specifically, the report measures individuals with substance use disorders that bring their habits to work with them. According to the data:

  • More than one in five workers said they’ve used drugs or alcohol on the job
  • 62% said they know at least one person who’ve used narcotics or had consumed alcohol unauthorized while at work

The survey also takes a look at which substances are most commonly used in the workplace. The data suggests that:

  • Alcohol is by far the most used substance on the job
  • Recreational marijuana use is at second, but far less common than alcohol use
  • Third place goes to prescription drugs, especially opioids like Oxycontin

Some workers even admit to using more potent illegal substances in the workplace, such as:

Of course, alcohol being the most common abuse substance at work would make sense. Alcohol both is legal and easily accessible. Meanwhile, rates of health issues and deaths relating to alcohol have also been increasing recently. According to other research:

  • 35% of patients suffering from occupational injuries were at-risk drinkers
  • 16% of emergency room patients injured at work tested positive for alcohol
  • 11% of workplace fatality victims had been drinking at the time of the accident

Even as the opioid epidemic continues, alcohol use disorder continues to be a very prominent issue. Still, the rates of illicit narcotics being used in the workplace are also troubling. After all, statistics also show that out of the 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs, 70% are employed.

Impact of Using Drugs on the Job

A lot of people who struggle with substance use disorder actually believe they are functioning. They are able to maintain their work as long as they can maintain their drinking or drug use. Some may find it harder to function without drugs in their system.

When employees use drugs on the job, the impact can be significant. In some professions, it may seem easier to get away with, but in many, it can be a serious health hazard for the individual and other employees. For example, being intoxicated at work can lead to accidents on the job. Studies have shown that workers with a drinking problem are 270% more likely to have an accident on the job.

Not to mention, substance use disorder is a progressive disease. Over time, an individual’s drinking or drug use will escalate. As their use of drugs on the job continues, it only magnifies the risks.

Meanwhile, experts indicate that addiction costs the American economy a whopping 190 billion dollars every year! That is a lot of money being

Drug Policies in the Workplace

In general, most companies tend to have a zero tolerance drug policy. This is particularly prominent in safety-sensitive positions. Most businesses enforce their rules against using drugs on the job with drug testing practices worked into their policies and procedures. Typically, in the event an employee is drug tested and fails, employers have the options of taking progressive discipline up to and including termination in many cases.

Another recent study analyzing more than 10 million workplace drug test results, by Secaucus-based Quest Diagnostics, discovered that testing positive for some kind of substance was at a 14-year high. Ironically, the survey found that one in 10 respondents purchased an item or ingested a substance to help them beat a random drug test.

What a lot of people struggling with substance use disorder may not realize is that their employers have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place to help with these kinds of issues. Some EAP programs offer confidential counseling. Sometimes this service is free or part of the company healthcare plan. EAP resources are there to assist employees with personal problems that may adversely impact their work performance.

Back in 2015, the Journal of Employee Assistance published an article to help employee assistance programs looking for addiction treatment programs to recommend for their clients. This is one important way these organizations can help employees who are struggling to find the quality care resources they deserve.

Addiction Treatment that Makes a Difference

For those who struggle with using drugs on the job, it is important that there are real options for them to receive addiction treatment. Some of the more tradition treatment factors that the aforementioned article for EAP professionals points out include:

The article also suggests that professionals look for innovative treatment opportunities, such as:

  • Non-traditional therapeutic approaches
  • Multiple levels of care
  • Dual diagnosis care for co-occurring disorders
  • Attention to underlying issues
  • Family involvement

Palm Partners Recovery Center believes that each of these elements helps create a more comprehensive treatment experience. That is why we have incorporated each of these methods into our recovery program.  We know that it is hard to leave work and admit that you need help, especially for professionals and executives. However, we take pride in offering the best in addiction recovery resources and helping each client build a recovery plan that is right for them.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, and their work or professional life is suffering because of it, please call toll-free now. We want to help. 1-800-951-6135

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