It is important for management staff to identify symptoms of substance abuse in the workplace. Generally, substance abuse by employees in a workplace is more likely to be disruptive as it will negatively affect the productivity of the employees. Early identification of symptoms of substance abuse will help in coming up with measures to help in managing those employees engaged in substance abuse.
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Early identification of employees who engage in substance abuse will save business costs associated with low production of such employees as well as inconveniences associated with their behavior. According to Thomas and Hersen (2002), substance abusers display disruptive and unbecoming behaviors which include anger, hostility, and violence; harassment and discrimination; and absenteeism behavior in the workplace. Identification of symptoms of substance abuse will, therefore, help to prevent the likelihood of disruptive behaviors being manifested in the workplace.
There are many effects that are likely to negatively affect a company due to its employees engaging in substance abuse. The negative effects will depend on the substance that is being abused. If, for instance, it is alcohol that is abused, then the employees in question are likely to produce low quality work, depending on the nature of work they do, as alcohol is known to cause unsteadiness in walking and even in thinking (Thomas & Hersen, 2002).
Some other drugs when abused may lead to the user being socially dysfunctional whereby a person may become withdrawn from other coworkers or in some cases overly interactive. Such extreme social behavior tendencies will definitely affect other employees and negatively impact their concentration at the workplace resulting in a reduction in company production.
In some cases, some of the drugs may stir anger in the user and trigger him or her into self-body injury or even into assaulting other people. Being absent from work is another likely negative effect of substance abuse. An employee may be tempted to leave early for home after taking a drug and especially when such an employee fails to cope up with the side effects of the drug.
Substance abuse will adversely affect a long term project which requires a team effort. If a team member engages in substance abuse, his or her input is likely to be reduced and this might impact negatively the project success depends on the role that such a member plays in running the project. Consistent abuse of drugs leads to drug addiction; employees who are addicted to drugs are not likely to be as active and productive as employees who are not drug addicts. If a company had invested in an employee who then turns into substance abuse then such an employee becomes a liability to the company because his or her acquired and much-wanted skills will be underutilized by the company.
Substance abuse may lead to workplace injuries. This is especially the case for employees who work in places that require extra care, for instance, in construction sites. Workplace injuries will result in lawsuits which may cost a company a lot of money in compensation.
Substance Abuse Interventions
Companies have substance abuse intervention programs meant to assist employees who get entangled in substance abuse. Intervention programs are very important as they assist employees to stop substance abuse. The importance of intervention programs is underscored by the harm that substance abuse may cause a company.
Intervention programs ensure that there is continuity in the productivity of a company by ensuring that employees are not affected by substance abuse. Substance abuse has been shown to reduce the productivity of a user and at the same time, it may also affect the productivity of those who work as a team. The net effect of this is that company productivity will be negatively affected. Substance abuse intervention, therefore, is very important to ensure that a company’s productivity is not affected.
Companies need to be aware that employees are protected by law even when they abuse drugs. The managerial staff should take care of when addressing substance abuse matters in the workplace. One of the legal concerns is testing employees for drugs. This has to be carried out according to law: different states have different laws on how drug testing is to be carried out. If the management staff overlooks these laws, the company might find itself in trouble fighting lawsuits.
If an employee has to undergo a drug test, then it has to be ensured that his or her privacy is maintained to avoid privacy invasion lawsuits. Another legal concern that an employer needs to be aware of is that of negligence. This is a very real threat that needs to be avoided as an employee may sue his or her employer for defamation of character arising due to negligence on the part of the employer.
Negligence may constitute using laboratories that are not federally certified for drug tests or even passing lab test results to third parties who do not necessarily need to know the results. An employer also has to be very careful about the provisions of the American with Disability Act (ADA). It is important that the managerial staff should carefully examine facts and engage the services of a company attorney when dealing with substance abuse issues to avoid unnecessary lawsuits (Bahls, n.d.).
Bahls, J. (n.d.). Dealing with drugs. Keep it legal. Carolina Investigative Research. Web.
Thomas, J & Hersen, M. (2002). Handbook of Mental Health in the Workplace. New York, NY: Sage.