How to spot alcohol, drug use in the workplace
According to SAMHSA, a federal agency tracking substance abuse, for 2015, there were about 139 million users of alcohol in the USA. Another 24.6 million Americans were illicit drug users, according to estimates.
When you combine those numbers, as well as the new Washington law permitting limited marijuana use, there is a great chance that one of your co-workers could be under the influence of some type.
Alcohol is the most common abuse issue in the workplace, with marijuana second and then misuse of prescription drugs.
Often people under the influence do not adhere to safe practices in the workplace.
To recognize warning signs of substance abuse, look for:
- Frequent disappearances
- Excessive sick or personal days
- Uncharacteristic behavior
- Rollercoaster work performance
- Difficulty with relationships.
Substance abuse in the workplace can be devastating. It can impact an employee’s health and working relationships but also can reduce productivity, increase absences and increase the risk of accidents.
Employers should update their substance abuse policies regularly, making sure that alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs and abuse of prescription drugs are addressed. For information on how a small business can set a policy, click here.
Here is a good web link with tips for dealing with substance abuse problems in the workplace and here is a SAMHSA report for Washington State. The RASI Safety Library has a section on Alcohol and Drug abuse for more information.
WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or firstname.lastname@example.org