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How Businesses Can Help Employees With Substance Abuse

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Health and safety policies are instrumental in maintaining safe, secure workspaces, but do they go far enough to protect wellbeing? Although businesses are required to comply with guidelines and safety measures, these regulations are often focused on accident prevention, rather than supporting employees, especially those who may be struggling with issues like substance abuse.

If you run a business, it’s beneficial to consider how you support your staff and whether you have policies or measures in place to help those who have drug or alcohol problems.

How to help employees with substance abuse

Did you know that 70% of illegal drug users in the US are employed? Drug and alcohol problems may be a lot more widespread than you think, and as a business owner, it’s crucial to consider your attitude to addiction. Many businesses are guilty of finding a reason to release employees who display signs of addiction or dependency, rather than providing them with support that could change the situation dramatically.

There are several ways employers could do more to help employees who exhibit signs of addiction, for example, changes in behavior, taking time off unexpectedly, lacking focus and concentration and showing up late. Examples include:

Introducing initiatives

Research conducted by suggests that companies that invest in drug testing and educational initiatives enjoy benefits including improved employee morale and a lower risk of workplace accidents. Addiction is poorly understood, and providing courses or workshops that explore these issues is likely to be beneficial for the entire team.

It’s also wise to think about how employee assistance programmes could be used to support individuals and show them that it is possible to follow a different route.

Being cruel to be kind

Many business owners will go out of their way to enable an individual without even realizing that they’re doing it. Sometimes, it’s better to be cruel to be kind. Stop making excuses or covering for those who are displaying traits of addiction, and confront the problem head-on.

It can be very difficult to refuse somebody an advance, for example, if they’re asking for their wages early, but you have to focus on the long-term benefits of rejecting the request and helping that person to make the right decisions.

Providing advice and support

Addictions are often linked to traumatic life events or obstacles or incidents that impact peoples’ personal lives. While you have a professional role to play, it’s important to make it clear to your employees that support is available. You can help them to take a step towards recovery by encouraging them to talk, seek advice and get treatment.

Social drinking and casual drug taking can spiral into something much more severe. Sadly, at the moment, many businesses turn their backs on employees who exhibit signs of drug and alcohol abuse, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways that businesses can help and support employees without sacrificing the reputation of their brand or the wellbeing of others in the team.

Be vigilant, make time for your employees, adopt initiatives and measures that are designed to promote all aspects of health and safety, and try and confront the problem, rather than hoping that it will miraculously go away. With the right guidance, it is possible for people to recover.