Module 13: Addictions in the Workplace


Alcohol and illicit street drug abuse are as common in workplaces as they are elsewhere in the community. In fact, some workplace environments create a "drinking climate". The culture in a given workplace may be permissive; workers susceptible to substance abuse will encounter an environment that not only fails to provide the support and deterrence necessary for an individual afflicted with a substance abuse disorder, but there may even be pressure from co-workers to drink or abuse substances to conform to the norm of the workplace culture.

Workers may otherwise bring their substance abuse problems to work, and consume their substance of choice in a clandestine way in order to contend with stressors both within and from outside work.

Aside from any implications for the employee's health and well-being, and for the productivity and well-being of the workplace environment, substance abuse creates numerous potential hazards for workers, co-workers, supervisors, managers, and other organizational personnel, as well as for clients and members of the public.

Substance abuse correlates significantly with violent crime, and is a specific factor to be considered in appraising a worker's risk for violence in the workplace.

Companies can go a long way in helping workers with addiction problems deal with their condition, through greater awareness of the problem, by encouraging and actively supporting the pursuit of treatment, and by providing specific services to help workers with these difficulties.

By the end of this workshop, participants will have learned about the different types of substance abuse, the effects they exert on the individuals who abuse these substances, and how to recognize the telltale signs of various abuseable substances. Participants will also learn about what organizations can do to help addicted workers, and foster an addiction-free work environment.