Drug Abuse In The Workplace & Prevention

When it comes to discussing safety at work, various categories and aspects of safety should be included when creating a company policy and a safe work environment where everyone can thrive. It is important to motivate your employees and encourage them to use their full potential, but as an employer, you ought to think about protecting a brand as well. Productivity levels and employees’ morale are extremely important for any company’s success and are directly related to their health and other external factors. For this reason, educating staff members about certain values they need to show as representatives of a brand is a necessity.

Raising awareness

In order to promote the importance of a workplace being a healthy environment in every sense, especially literally, meaning being substance-free, you first need to clearly define the problematic issues in both formal and informal ways. This needs to be assessed on regular meetings and through other evaluation and monitoring techniques. One of the most common problems in a modern workplace is surely substance abuse. Regular use of alcohol and drugs will be noticeable in changes in behaviour and attitude, as well as affect the quality of work. There are also some more complex and serious consequences which can endanger other people’s safety or result in property damage, depending on the position of a person in question.

Preventive measures and raising awareness about the signs for recognizing drug users is an obligatory preventive measure. Posters, flyers and any other useful educational materials on the topic should be provided throughout the company so everyone has access to it. Step after recognizing potentially damaging behaviour is obviously reporting it to the human resources department, or directly to the employer. But for this to be an easy and normal act, general promotion of a culture of communication must be present. People must feel free to talk about these issues regarding problems with their coworkers, without fear of being misinterpreted or getting fired. Furthermore, they must be a hundred per cent sure they will remain anonymous if the information turns out to be true.

Signs of drug abuse

We all have our ups and downs at work, specifically when it comes to how productive we are. Personal lives and other external factors will also play a huge role in motivation and focus on a certain day, so you shouldn’t rush to judgement. This can have the opposite effect and lower a worker’s sense of worthiness, especially if they are temporarily struggling with a personal problem. But if their evaluation shows a continuous and/or a significantly sudden drop in productivity you should react immediately. The approach to a potential liability needs to be a calm conversation, instead of a direct confrontation or an attack.

If you have noticed some signs and are in doubt, it is highly recommended to make an inquiry with people who are working closely with the suspected person. If they don’t have their own office, simply ask people who spend enough time around them, who will be able to notice any changes in the pattern of their behaviour and attitude towards work and colleagues. During the meeting with a potential drug abuser, you must calmly explain that you’ve noticed those changes and that you want to help in resolving a problem, if possible. If their reaction is confrontational, it is advised that you suggest scheduling a urine drug test to show the gravity of the issue. This would fit into the category of reasonable suspicion, but you are also allowed to perform periodic or randomly scheduled testing for all or some employees, along with the pre-employment ones.

Support and treatments

Prevention is always the ideal case, but as we are aware, these things are happening even with all the safety and precociousness measures a company is promoting. Timely detection and further steps of support through various programs are what follows. Whether to terminate someone’s position or appoint some measures for the recovery will be a judgment call of an employer. This will depend on many factors, such as how long is the person in question with the company, to what extent is their role essential for the whole operation, and of course, their attitude when confronted with the truth.

If you want and are financially able to help them receive the attention they need, you can temporarily pause their contract, while the process of recovery is happening. There are various programs and training they can participate in, and you can use their position and renewing the contract as an incentive. Having support will mean a lot to them, and perhaps that will be just the push in the right direction they’ve obviously needed.


It is not pleasant talking about such issues, but it is a necessary thing. Spreading awareness and pointing to damaging consequences on individuals in question, people in their environment and property must be addressed on a regular basis. Properly educating your employees is the most effective preventive measure, but they must be warned about the legal consequences as well. Set some clear goals and state what the disciplinary actions are whenever you see the opportunity. If you want to level up in tackling this issue, you could occasionally organize seminars or lectures, and/or offer support in terms of assistance programs and funding for them.

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Written by Emily Wilson

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