Addiction in The Workplace: Signs & What to Do

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Both alcohol addiction in the workplace and drug addiction in the workplace can be damaging and dangerous. This guide shows you how to identify signs of workplace substance abuse and how to engage with effective addiction treatment.

Addiction in The Workplace Statistics

NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) reports that 70% of individuals misusing illicit narcotics in the United States are able to maintain employment. Among these individuals, many report engaging in binge drinking, while others abuse substances such as marijuana and cocaine while on the job.

According to NSC (National Safety Council), over 15% of employees struggle with a substance use disorder, which is the clinical term for addiction. This may involve the misuse of prescription medications, with the services sector experiencing the highest prevalence, or it may encompass the use of any type of illegal drug.

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) reports that individuals engaging in alcohol abuse and dealing with substance use dependence are approximately three times more likely to negatively impact the work environment and experience work-related absences due to injuries. This addiction in the workplace statistic does not account for those who actively become intoxicated while at work.

people at conference table representing Drug addiction in the workplace

Signs of Drug Addiction in The Workplace

Identifying signs of drug addiction in the workplace can help promote a healthy and safe work environment. Recognizing these signs early on can enable timely intervention and support for individuals struggling with substance use disorders. Common signs of drug addiction in the workplace include:

Changes in behavior

  • Erratic or unpredictable behavior that deviates from the individual’s usual demeanor.
  • Frequent mood swings, ranging from irritability to euphoria.

Decline in job performance

  • Decreased productivity and quality of work.
  • Missed deadlines and increased errors or mistakes.

Attendance issues

  • Frequent and unexplained absences from work.
  • Consistent tardiness and extended breaks.

Physical signs

  • Noticeable changes in physical appearance, such as weight loss or gain.
  • Bloodshot eyes, tremors, or poor personal hygiene.

Social withdrawal

  • Avoidance of colleagues or changes in social interactions.
  • Isolation from work-related activities and events.

Financial problems

  • Requests for financial assistance or loans from colleagues.
  • Evidence of financial instability or unusual financial transactions.

Relationship strain

  • Strained relationships with coworkers and supervisors.
  • Difficulty collaborating or communicating effectively with team members.

Secrecy and defensiveness

  • Attempts to hide or be secretive about personal life or activities.
  • Defensive responses to inquiries about changes in behavior or performance.

Safety concerns

  • Engaging in unsafe work practices or neglecting safety protocols.
  • Increased risk of accidents or injuries.

Legal issues

  • Presence of legal troubles related to drug use, such as arrests or court appearances.
  • Suspicion or reports of theft or dishonest behavior.

Neglect of responsibilities

  • Neglecting responsibilities, including failure to complete assigned tasks.
  • Lack of interest in career advancement or professional development.

Shifts in priorities

  • Prioritizing drug-seeking behavior over work responsibilities.
  • Observable decline in commitment to professional goals.

Recognizing these signs necessitates a vigilant and supportive workplace culture. Employers and colleagues should approach concerns with empathy, offering assistance and resources for those in need. Encouraging an open dialogue about substance use and mental health can contribute to a workplace environment that prioritizes the well-being of its members.

Addiction in The Workplace: An Employer’s Guide

Recognizing and addressing addiction in the workplace is essential for maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. Employers play a crucial role in supporting employees struggling with addiction. Here is a comprehensive guide for employers dealing with addiction in the workplace:

  • Educate employees: Implement educational programs to increase awareness of substance use issues, their signs, and the impact on the workplace.
  • Promote a culture of understanding and empathy to reduce stigma surrounding addiction.
  • Establish clear policies: Develop clear and comprehensive workplace policies addressing substance use, including guidelines on treatment, rehabilitation, and confidentiality. Communicate these policies to all employees and ensure they understand the consequences of violating them.
  • Create a supportive environment: Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their challenges, including substance use issues. Encourage open communication and assure confidentiality for those seeking help.
  • Implement EAPs (employee assistance programs): Offer access to employee assistance programs that provide confidential counseling and support services for employees dealing with addiction.
  • Educate employees about the existence and benefits of EAPs.
  • Training for supervisors: Train supervisors to recognize signs of addiction, handle sensitive situations with empathy, and guide employees towards appropriate resources.
  • Ensure that supervisors understand the importance of maintaining confidentiality.
  • Promote work-life balance: Encourage a healthy work-life balance to reduce stressors that may contribute to substance use.
  • Provide flexibility when possible and promote well-being initiatives.
  • Offer treatment resources: Provide information about available treatment resources, rehabilitation programs, and local support groups. Collaborate with healthcare providers to facilitate access to professional help.
  • Non-punitive approaches: Adopt non-punitive approaches that prioritize rehabilitation over punitive measures. Consider offering flexibility for employees seeking treatment and reintegration plans for those returning to work.
  • Employee assistance hotlines: Establish employee assistance hotlines or dedicated points of contact for individuals seeking help or information. Ensure that employees are aware of these resources and feel comfortable utilizing them.
  • Regular reviews of policies: Periodically review and update workplace policies to ensure they remain relevant and aligned with best practices. Solicit feedback from employees and adjust policies based on evolving needs.
  • Legal compliance: Stay informed about legal requirements related to addiction and substance use in the workplace. Ensure compliance with relevant laws to protect both employees and the organization.
  • Promote a healthy work environment: Create a workplace culture that values and prioritizes the health and well-being of employees. Promote activities and initiatives that contribute to a positive and supportive atmosphere.

By proactively addressing addiction in the workplace, employers can contribute to the well-being of their employees, enhance productivity, and create a positive organizational culture that prioritizes health and recovery.

woman workin on computer representing Drug and alcohol addiction in the workplace

Getting Help for Addiction in The Workplace

Addressing addiction in the workplace requires a compassionate and supportive approach to ensure the well-being of affected individuals and maintain a healthy work environment. Here are steps to facilitate getting help for addiction in the workplace:

Observation and awareness

  • Colleagues and supervisors should remain observant and aware of behavioral changes and signs of addiction.
  • Foster an environment that encourages open communication and destigmatizes seeking help for substance use issues.

Educational programs

  • Implement educational programs that raise awareness about the signs of addiction and available resources.
  • Provide information on the impact of substance use on mental health and work performance.

EAPs (employee assistance programs)

  • Promote the use of Employee Assistance Programs that offer confidential counseling and support services.
  • Ensure that employees are aware of the availability and confidentiality of EAP resources.

Open dialogue

  • Encourage open and non-judgmental conversations about substance use and mental health.
  • Establish a culture that prioritizes seeking help and emphasizes that assistance is available without fear of reprisal.

Access to treatment services

  • Provide information about available treatment services and rehabilitation programs.
  • Collaborate with local treatment centers or organizations to facilitate access to professional help.

Supportive workplace policies

  • Implement supportive workplace policies that address addiction as a health issue, emphasizing rehabilitation over punitive measures.
  • Ensure that policies protect the confidentiality of individuals seeking help.

Peer support networks

  • Establish peer support networks within the workplace to create a sense of community and understanding.
  • Train designated individuals to offer peer support and guidance to those struggling with addiction.

Professional consultation

  • Consult with addiction specialists or mental health professionals to assess the situation and determine appropriate intervention strategies.
  • Seek guidance on creating a workplace environment that promotes recovery and long-term well-being.

Reintegration plans

  • Develop reintegration plans for individuals returning to work after completing treatment.
  • Ensure a supportive and phased re-entry into the workplace to reduce stress and potential triggers.

Regular follow-ups

  • Conduct regular follow-ups to monitor progress, provide ongoing support, and address any emerging challenges.
  • Maintain open lines of communication to encourage individuals to seek help as needed.

By fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes the health and well-being of its members, organizations can contribute to creating an environment where individuals feel supported in seeking help for addiction and can successfully navigate the path to recovery.

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Get Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you or someone that you care about requires treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism in Cincinnati, OH, reach out to Ohio Recovery Centers today.

We treat all types of addictions and mental health conditions in an outpatient setting, allowing you to get the help you need without neglecting your everyday commitments. In addition to regular outpatient programs, we also offer PHPs (partial hospitalization programs) and IOPs (intensive outpatient programs).

All treatment programs combine holistic and science-backed therapies. You will also leave our treatment facility with relapse prevention techniques and a robust aftercare plan that may involve ongoing therapy. Call 877-679-2132 today and begin your addiction recovery tomorrow.

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn