Most Americans with substance use disorder are employed. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 75% of people with substance use disorder maintain employment, and its impact goes undetected. Some people who abuse alcohol or drugs can achieve personal, professional or academic success and qualify as “high-functioning,” but “high-functioning” doesn’t mean healthy.

The consequences of substance abuse in the workplace aren’t always clear-cut, but it can ultimately affect a business’ bottom line and can lead to:

  • Productivity loss.
  • A decrease in quality of work.
  • High turnover rates.
  • Work-related injuries and deaths.
  • Careless risk-taking that negatively affects the company.
  • The illegal sale of substances to coworkers.

Illicit drug use is most prevalent among construction and food service workers. Heavy alcohol use is also frequent in these groups, as well as among mechanics, light truck drivers and laborers. Additionally, roles that require little to no supervision or are characterized by “high mobility” are associated with higher rates of problem drinking.

Signs of Workplace Substance Use

  • Attendance issues. They show up late, use sick days or call in with unplanned absences, and absences follow a pattern, such as after paydays or on Mondays or Fridays.
  • Performance issues. They’re less productive, they miss deadlines or fail to complete assignments altogether.
  • Interpersonal issues. They’re not acting like themselves. They seem to have a shorter temper and be more argumentative, or they may be keeping to themselves more and avoiding interactions with colleagues.
  • Behavioral issues. Substance use can be obvious. Perhaps they smell of alcohol, have bloodshot eyes or are slurring their speech. Less apparent signs include excessive use of breath mints or mouthwash, excessive laughter or inappropriate loudness.

If an employee exhibits two or more of these symptoms, it is likely they have substance use disorder.

What to Do If You Think an Employee Is Abusing Substances

It’s important to tread lightly if you suspect an employee is abusing substances. Start by gathering evidence, keeping a log of the dates and times of particular incidents. Then, schedule a face-to-face sit-down, or consider staging a professional intervention that guides them into detox or treatment.

Establish a healthier, more supportive work environment. If you don’t already, implement drug testing and establish an Employee Assistance Program, a work-based intervention program that helps employees with personal or work-related problems through counseling and resource referrals. This ensures that all employees have access to services that can help them overcome the issues affecting their personal and professional lives.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use disorder, Boca Detox can help. Our medically-supervised detox services can help you recover from drug addiction or alcoholism and transition into residential or outpatient treatment. For more information about our services, contact Boca Detox at 561.271.7612.