December 3, 2021 Addiction

How To Tell If Your Employees Are Using Drugs

Drug misuse in the workplace can lead to lower productivity, high absenteeism rates, and a higher number of workplace-related accidents and injuries. Employers who know how to spot signs of drug use among employees can often prevent these types of problems and may be able to provide their employees with resources to help them recover from substance misuse.

Continue reading to learn more about how to spot signs of drug use in the workplace and how employers can help their employees recover from addiction.

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What Is the Scope of Substance Abuse in the Workplace?

Addiction in the workplace causes American businesses to lose an average of $81 billion every year, reports Harvard Health Publishing. Lost profits are related to high turnover rates, workplace theft, high absenteeism, and low productivity.

Of the 70% of employees who continue to work while suffering from addiction, more than 42% report experiencing decreased work productivity as a result.

Alcohol is involved in more than 16% of U.S. emergency room visits for work-related injuries and more than 10% of workplace fatalities.

An estimated 63% of people who report misusing prescription opioids are employed.

An estimated 43% of drug overdose deaths that occur at work involve individuals who work in the construction, transportation, warehousing, healthcare, and social assistance industries, reports the CDC.

Employees who suffer from addiction miss an average of 14.8 workdays a year, while those who suffer specifically from opioid addiction miss an average of 29 days a year.

Signs an Employee Is Using Drugs

Signs of drug use include both physical and behavioral signs. Employers can benefit from becoming more familiar with the physical and noticeable effects of different types of drugs.

Opioids and benzodiazepines produce sedative effects, including drowsiness and slurred speech, while stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine may produce higher energy and shaking. In addition, alcohol misuse can cause redness in the face, stumbling, and body odor that smells like alcohol.

Employers can also determine whether employees are using drugs based on their behaviors at work. These patterns and behaviors include the following:

Frequent Absences and Tardiness

Individuals who suffer from drug addiction will often spend a lot of time trying to obtain drugs, using drugs, and recovering from the effects of drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. For example, employees using drugs may call in sick regularly to recover from hangovers or to deal with the crash that follows cocaine or methamphetamine use. Employees may also take longer lunch breaks or arrive to work late to spend that time buying or using drugs.

Reduced Work Performance

Employees who are misusing drugs will often start to miss deadlines or become less productive and efficient. This may occur for several reasons, such as feeling ill from the effects of drugs or being constantly preoccupied with drugs when they should be focusing on work-related tasks. Reduced work performance is often driven by underlying problems affecting an employee’s livelihood, including substance misuse.

Abrupt Changes In Mood

Employees who were once quiet, honest, and easy to get along with may suddenly have angry outbursts and start lying about work-related issues. They may seem fine one moment and become paranoid or extremely irritable the next. Drugs interact with the brain in ways that can lead to erratic, unpredictable behavior and mood swings. Employers who suspect an employee is using drugs can benefit from keeping an eye out for sudden mood changes and how that particular employee is interacting with their coworkers.

Frequent Illnesses and Health Problems

Drug misuse and addiction will often trigger or worsen many health problems. Persistent flu-like symptoms, dental issues, fluctuations in weight, and gastrointestinal issues (e.g., upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea) are some of the many common health problems experienced by those who misuse drugs and alcohol. Substance misuse also increases the risk of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Employees who appear to be feeling sick at work all the time may be using drugs, especially if they are frequently calling in sick.

Poor Physical Hygiene

Those who use drugs will often start to neglect their hygiene and appearance. This usually occurs due to various factors, including extreme tiredness, ignorance, and choosing to prioritize drug use above such essential tasks as showering, brushing teeth, and doing laundry. Employees whose personal hygiene has declined, whether suddenly or gradually, may be suffering from drug dependence and addiction.

Increased Financial Problems

Drug misuse can become extremely costly, especially if an employee’s tolerance for these substances has increased to the point they need higher amounts than before to experience the drug’s effects. Financial problems commonly associated with drug use include legal fees for DUIs and other drug-related offenses and failure to pay important bills, such as rent, mortgage, utilities, and car insurance. An employee may be struggling with drug addiction if they frequently ask about paycheck advances, 401K withdrawals, raises, and loans.

Treatment Programs for Employees Who Use Drugs

Many workplaces in Indiana offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that help employers deal with addiction and drug use among employees. EAPs can help employees recover from drugs and become more productive and reliable in the workplace. These programs are completely confidential and staffed with professionals who are trained to help employees cope with addiction-related stigmas as they work on improving their job performance.

Managers and coworkers who suspect employees are using drugs should contact their human resources (HR) department to help manage these cases. HR will follow specific company and legal guidelines to ensure these cases are handled professionally and appropriately. If a workplace does not offer an EAP, HR can still provide employees with resources they can use to find and receive addiction treatment without further jeopardizing their careers, health, and livelihood.

Drug misuse and addiction can be safely and effectively treated using medication-assisted detox and behavioral therapy in a drug rehab program. Some recovery centers even offer programs geared specifically toward business professionals and others who want to increase their workplace productivity and meet specific career goals. Many drug rehab centers will develop customized treatment programs for each patient based on their unique situations related to addiction and their personal recovery needs.

Employers in Indiana can refer to these Employer Guidelines for the Indiana Substance Use Treatment Law, which outlines steps to take when employees are suspected of using drugs in the workplace.