When a person develops an addiction, it intrudes on every aspect of their lives — their personal, mental, and familial life. And even if they aren’t actively abusing drugs or alcohol in the workplace, substance abuse will inevitably have an effect on their professional life as well. Sadly, substance abuse in the workplace statistics prove that this phenomenon is all too common, and can have very negative effects on the work environment.
Studies have shown that in Canada, the annual cost of workers absent or late due to substance abuse is about $400 million. If that seems high, it’s actually very low. That’s $400 million in just Alberta alone! Plus, workers using substances are far more likely to get injured on the job and five times more likely to file workers compensation claims.
Another study revealed equally disturbing substance abuse in the workplace statistics:
- About 9% of drinkers and 10% of drug users had missed work because of a hangover
- Another 6% had gone to work high or drunk in the preceding year
- 28% of substance abusers had skipped work in the past month
In total, substance abuse costs the Canadian healthcare system $8 billion annually.
There are many ways that you can discourage substance abuse in the workplace. Check them out below:
First, it’s crucial to train and educate all supervisors so they thoroughly understand the company’s substance abuse policies. Likewise, employees should also be aware of your policies and the consequences of substance abuse, and know that there is assistance available through the office. When you do identify employees with problems, many companies have found success with implementing an employee referral system for assistance. It’s a compassionate and professional way to connect employees with the help they need, while still making it clear that substance abuse in the workplace will not be tolerated.
Many companies drug test upon hiring, and then test periodically during the employee’s tenure. In certain industries, like transportation, random drug screens are actually mandatory, if only following an accident on the job. Sometimes, even just having a testing policy can deter drug and alcohol abuse. Plus, it will help filter out employees who fail the initial drug screen.
Reduce Stress in the Workplace
An employer is not supposed to be his workers’ friend, let alone therapist. That being said, a high stress, low morale environment will do nothing to help employees struggling with mental health or substance abuse disorders. Many drug abusers step up their use because they can’t handle stresses at work or home.
Some companies have even taken the extraordinary step of providing free counseling services for all types of substance abuse, mental health, or emotional issues. After all, in a given year one in every five Canadians can expect to experience an addiction or mental health issue.
By looking at substance abuse in the workplace statistics, and other indications (like the fact that 47,000 Canadian deaths are linked to substance abuse annually) it is very clear that employers need to have procedures in place to deal with these issues as they arise.