Danger of Workplace Substance Abuse

It should be obvious to everyone that it is a bad idea to abuse substances such as alcohol or drugs at work. But every day, some people still find the need to do so, usually because of an addiction to said substances. Just about all companies have hard and fast rules against substance abuse, and the punishment is usually severe, to include outright termination. But the dangers of substance abuse at work include more than just risking one’s job.

To a lot of workers danger is second nature, as they must lift heavy things, work around dangerous machinery, or risk falling in the ocean and drowning. These are just some of the ways that people are seriously injured or die every year at the workplace, and there are countless others. When an employee shows up to work drunk or high, the potential for these accidents greatly increases. Not only do these people cause risk to themselves, they may harm others.

In addition to the increased probability of accidents and injuries, productivity is markedly decreased when people abuse drugs or alcohol. Concentration is impaired, and employees are usually not able to perform even easy tasks. People using substances have higher rates of calling in sick, or not coming into work at all. Work absences greatly decrease work productivity. Job turn-over is also higher in impaired employees. The tendency to just quit work is higher with this population, so employers cannot depend on workers who abuse substances.

Because of their addictions, many people tend to steal in order to sell things for drug money. This addictive behavior may also lead to gambling, which can lead to more theft. Most crimes at businesses come from employees taking equipment and supplies. For this reason, workplace substance abuse can cost companies a lot of money.

Businesses cannot afford to hire people with substance abuse problems. The risks and costs are too high. For this reason, many businesses have implemented drug screening programs. Most potential recruits are tested for drugs before they are even hired, and then are periodically screened. The employment clause will state termination if illegal substances are found on their person, or through drug testing programs. Most companies are also implementing alcohol and drug awareness classes, and offer treatment classes and counseling for their employees to decrease the risk of workplace incidents.

When companies do not take time to adequately screen their employees and negative incidents are reported from employee substance abuse, such as death, accidents, work loss, theft, etc., the business will no longer appear reputable. These incidents cause customers to lose trust in the company.

Businesses need to carefully screen all applicants and employees to ensure that they are not abusing substances, as the cost of hiring people with addictions is too great for companies. Classes should also be taught in substance abuse awareness. Although the initial cost to weed out these individuals is higher, the long term benefits of hiring drug-free employees is worth the upfront investment.


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