How to React to Recurring Substance Abuse in the Workplace

The workplace environment requires complete and total accountability with regard to regular, everyday office duties. Unfortunately, this accountability is not only applicable to one’s professional life, but also to one’s private life. As much as we would all enjoy actually separating our professional and private lives, the truth is that this is not really possible. Divorce can make someone collapse at the office from emotional exhaustion, and a high-powered career may need to be brought home in the evenings in order to be completed that day. Recurring drug or alcohol abuse in the workplace is not only a problem in your private life; it’s a problem for your entire company.

A report by Jiang Yu and William Williford talks about the progression and continuance of substance abuse, specifically alcohol and marijuana abuse, within your working life. The gateway theory is used in multiples, theorizing that not only can alcohol and light doses of marijuana be gateway substances to hard drug abuse, but also that early onset, emotional debilitation and life trauma can also be contributing risk factors. In fact, these circumstances can rapidly increase progression to hard drug abuse because the inability to achieve or the need for emotional growth are strengthened by the poor development. [1]

Denise Kandel attributed stages of drug progression to the need for all forms of emotional, biological, social and environmental support (which particularly happens in adolescence and poorly formed adulthood). When one or more of these socially necessary pieces of the pie are unfulfilled, psycho-stimulating or psycho-calming support from abusive substances can help to “cushion” the human lack. It is precisely this filling of a human need which almost necessarily pushes the individual to use, abuse and become hooked, in many cases for life. [2]

Recurring abuse on the jobsite is to be expected from employees who have abused in the past. What can you do about this?

Help your employees to feel emotionally, psychologically, physically and communally supported through the use of effective human resources and PR departments. If the job does not already involve physical exercise, consider forming a sports team and competing with other companies. Organize business parties and community events which incorporate enjoyable team building activities.

A strong sense of community is one of the greatest factors in developing social responsibility and personal accountability. Think of it this way: if there is no one who sees or cares about the abuse, then there is no one to look to as an example. Employee support does not just involve good role modeling, but also forming personal, interesting connections between management and staff. Contact CMM Technology today: +618-9204-2500.

1. Yu, Jiang, and William Williford. “Substance Use & Misuse .” Informa Healthcare. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10826089209047353.

2. Kandel, Denise B.. Stages and pathways of drug involvement: examining the gateway hypothesis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.

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