The issue of substance abuse is a longstanding one, particularly when it comes to the personal and financial costs to workplaces up and down the country. Indeed, alcohol dependency and drug addiction are two of the biggest drains on efficiency and the economy in the American workplace. Often costing much more than a mere missed contract or a late project, substance abuse needs to be stamped out – but how?


The stresses of modern life versus substance abuse


Modern life is stressful. With deadlines to meet, technology to get to grips with, commutes to make, colleagues and clients to appease, and mouths to feed at home, it’s little wonder that so many Americans are signed off sick or seek professional medical advice on the grounds of feeling burned out. Contrary to popular office gossip seeking help is not a sign of weakness; indeed, recognizing that you have an issue is incredibly brave, and seeking help is a fantastic step forward. Regardless of your own, personal, experiences with office stress there are vast handfuls of employees up and down the country who may be turning to alcohol, drugs, or similar substances for comfort, out of habit, or simply to forget the day. While this may be a quick and easy solution it also a short term one, and an incredibly problematic one. You see, while addicts may feel as though they have reached rock bottom, they often haven’t had time to consider the consequences of their actions upon their family, friends, and workplaces. Substance abuse is a huge drain upon workplaces throughout the country, affecting efficiency, profits, morale, and security, as well as hampering a business’s reputation amongst colleagues and clients; small businesses, in particular, are heavily hit by such actions. Is there a way for them to combat substance abuse?


Preventing substance abuse and protecting profits


If you’re a business owner, the chances are you’ve worried about a member of your own team, their circumstances, and their habits outside of the workplace at one time or another – or even as we speak. The good news is that there are counter actions that you can be taking today – and not all of them are complicated or costly. For example, simply rewording company documents, being clear on your policies surrounding substance abuse, and taking the time to explain the disciplinary procedures to staff members can often be enough to discourage questionable behavior, particularly in those who may use drugs or alcohol recreationally.


It’s also a fantastic idea to get to know your team. Ask them questions like where do they live? What’s their family situation? What are their main characteristics? Not only will you build a strong, loyal team, but you’ll also pick up on the warning signs of substance abuse long before they become a huge problem. Is someone on your team more withdrawn than usual? Do they have financial issues? Have they suddenly started taking time off? Take the time to manage your people, and let them know that you’re there. Of course, taking the softly-softly approach doesn’t work in every business or for every team member, and random drugs testing is actively encouraged in a variety of industries, especially those connected to travel and transport, security services, and the emergency services. A simple oral fluid lab test can often be enough to signify deeper issues as well as discourage addictive behavior, and many tests can now be conducted relatively cheaply. Are you willing to risk your business’s profits and reputation for the sake of the cost of a test?


Substance abuse is a huge problem within the American workplace, particularly when managers bury their heads in the sand; ignoring an issue doesn’t mean it will go away, sadly. Applying simple tactics to discourage this behavior, as well as taking the time to become a leader rather than a faceless manager can all help to tackle substance abuse, while also showing your team members that in you, they have a confidante. Businesses simply cannot put a price on such relationships.