Workplace Substance Abuse Essay

2862 words - 11 pages

The following will address the issue of substance abuse in the workplace, what can be done to alleviate substance abuse in the workplace and the benefits of the control factors.Before we delve into this issue let us first go over the effects of substance abuse, to better understand this growing problem. Alcoholism is defined in terms of four symptoms (1) a craving or compulsion to drink; (2) loss of control to limit drinking on any particular occasion; (3) physical dependence, so that withdrawal symptoms (nausea, sweating, shakiness, anxiety) are experienced if alcohol ceases and (4) tolerance, the need to drink increasingly greater amounts in order to get high (Lauer and Lauer, 2008).Studies indicate that boring, repetitive tasks with little satisfying results can contribute to increased use and abuse. Other factors include irregular hours and improper supervision. Substance use can also be part of the work culture. For example, in sales professions, drinking is quite acceptable. A three-martini lunch may, in some cases, continue all afternoon. Access, opportunity and freedom can escalate a problem (Buttery, 2005/2006).Employees are often also reluctant to reveal a problem. If I'm a licensed professional - a truck driver, doctor, nurse or veterinarian - exposing my problem may threaten my license and my ability to earn a living. I could lose my job, or if it goes on my record, it could affect my chances of promotion. In terms of addressing substance use, stigma is a barrier to accessing help. Substance use and abuse are perceived as a disciplinary problem, not a health problem (Buttery, 2005/2006).Alcohol is the top substance problem, with marijuana following, this is because one drink can lead to slight impairment and mood change. Its easy accessibility, also, makes alcohol the most used substance. The effects of alcohol are also more difficult for an employer to detect because it does not last long in the blood stream.The effects of illegal drugs are more difficult to determine because illegal substances can have varying side effects on the user.Substance abuse in the workplace is one of the top concerns in the United States today. Studies show that 73 percent of drug users are employed, costing American businesses billions of dollars annually in lost production and staffing costs (Walsh). Due to higher employment rates and rising substance abuse, the chance that your organization employs one of these 8.1 million workers is greater today than it has been in the past several years (Walsh, 1996).Dealing with the effects of alcohol and drugs in the workplace is no small challenge for any employer, but in the industrial sector where employees work closely with heavy, dangerous and hazardous materials, substance abuse ispotentially life threatening (Lynds, 2009).Researchers weren't sure if the trend is because alcohol is legal and more socially acceptable than illegal drugs or that testing for illegal drugs has become prevalent at many work sites...

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