Can You Change Your Work Environment to Fight Employee Substance Abuse?

Although you are not responsible for your employees’ actions outside of work, there is quite a lot you can do to increase their work potential and abuse reduction while on the job. Since a large portion of your employees’ days are spent at work, it is important that they feel as if they are making a significant difference in the company and in their personal future. If they were to enjoy themselves and have quality time outside of work, but receive small goals and get little accomplished during a major portion of their day, the job site will seem almost worthless to them. Low self esteem, poor productivity, low expectations and physical and mental lethargy are all contributing stress factors to an unhappy employee. What can you do to have a positive influence?

Nutrition. Nutrition and proper eating are key factors in maintaining a healthy, joyful attitude. Often, individuals who abuse drugs and alcohol are ingesting very little nutrition outside of their regular “escape.” A paper on drug abuse and the metabolic syndrome describes how nutrition deficiency coupled with substance abuse increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes. [1] When the body’s blood sugar levels are not maintained at optimum levels, it can result in severe and unpredictable mood swings.

Mental Stimulus. A study on enhancing employee social support and overall mental health describes how positive group settings have a noticeable effect on workplace staff. [2] In fact, the study demonstrated how depressive symptoms and absenteeism were greatly reduced in healthy, group-oriented, psychosocial settings. This was found to be a type of coping mechanism, much like the possible alternative of substance abuse. Mental stimulus does not have to be solely group-oriented, however. Employees gain positive self esteem and effective feelings of accomplishment when presented with challenging tasks, rather than repetitive, mind-numbing labor.

Physical Activity. Just as the brain must be stimulated and put to work, the body must not be allowed to remain lethargic. In a comprehensive study by Kirkcaldy, Shephard and Siefen, they evaluated a large group of adolescents, along with their trait addictions, self image, anxiety and depression levels, and physical health. [3] It was found that a specific personality type is associated with resistance to drug and alcohol abuse, and that this personality type is positively correlated with engaging physical activity and sports.

Although nutrition, mental stimulus and physical activity are all positively associated with preventing substance abuse, they will need to be accompanied by proper testing. Make sure that your employees receive regular testing for possible abusive behavior. Contact CMM Technology today: +618-9204-2500.

1. “Links between Nutrition, Drug Abuse, and the Metabolic Syndrome – VIRMANI – 2006 – Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.” Wiley Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2011.

2. “Increasing coping resources at work: A field experiment to increase social support, improve work team functioning, and enhance employee mental health – Heaney – 2006 – Journal of Organizational Behavior.” Wiley Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2011.

3. Kirkcaldy, B.D., R.J. Shephard, and R.G. Siefen. “The relationship between physical activity and self image and problem behaviour among adolescents.” SpringerLink – Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Volume 37, Number 11. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2011.

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