What to Do About Illegal Drugs at Work


By Tina O’Conner

According to an article by Eric Patterson, MSCP, NCC, LPC, “Of all drug users, 68.9% are employed and active in the workplace, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration .Additionally, 1/3 of all employees are aware of the illegal sale of drugs in their workplace, according to the TN Department of Labor & Workforce Development.”

That is an astounding number of employees who use illegal substances. This statistic does not include those employees who use their prescription drugs in a way that is not recommended.

Impaired decision-making, a decrease in productivity, poor work performance, an increase in work-related accidents and an increase in absenteeism or tardiness are some of the signs your co-worker may be struggling with drugs, alcohol, or a non-recommended dosage of prescription drugs.

Many reasons exist as to why a person may choose to use substances to help manage life. More specific reasons are trauma, grief, loss of a job, uncomfortable feelings, feeling bored, peer pressure and heredity. Peer pressure occurs in all stages of life; including the workplace.

A difficult question that does not have a black or white answer is, “What can I do if I think someone is addicted or dependent on substances, and it is affecting their work performance?”

We do not want to invade personal space, accuse someone of using substances if we do not have concrete information. Please contact a supervisor or someone in the human resources department. Most workplaces have a substance abuse policy.

If you have a personal relationship with your coworker, you may talk to them directly about your concerns. Be prepared the conversation may feel awkward. Their safety, quality of life and their job may depend on you being a really good friend or coworker.

Encourage an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), therapy or a local AA/NA/Alanon group. Please do not ignore it. Addiction or dependence does not go away on its own.

Another way to promote awareness is to join The Parkesburg Chapter Kacie’s Causeof Kacie’s Cause for the Third Annual Mother’s Day Walk this Sunday, May 8th beginning at 9 a.m. The walk begins at Parkesburg Point (700 Main Street, Parkesburg). Please visit them on Facebook: Kacies Cause Parkesburg Chapter or www.KaciesCause.com and click on the link for the Parkesburg Chapter Events.

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