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Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace

Factors Contributing to Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Alcohol and drug abuse are one of the greatest factors that cause expensive problems to a business or an industry. These problems range from injuries, fatalities, lost productivity, absenteeism, low employee morale, increase in health care, legal liabilities and theft among others. Alcohol and drug abuse also affect other family members and their work. According to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, the losses faced by companies total over $100 billion annually. This figure doesn’t include the pain and suffering caused and which can’t be measured in economic terms. Alcohol and drug abuse are costly both medically and socially affecting both employees and employers. Below are some of the factors that contribute to alcoholism and substance abuse in the workplace.

Workplace Culture

The culture in the workplace plays a key role in whether alcoholism and drug abuse are allowed, encouraged or discouraged and inhibited. A great part of this culture may depend on the gender mix of the employees. According to research, male-dominated jobs normally create heavy drinking cultures where employees drink in an attempt to show conformity and build solidarity. Consequently, these jobs have higher rates or alcohol and drug-related problems affecting them. Any industry can be affected, but according to research, the industries that are most affected include construction, mining and drilling, maintenance and repair, installation and food service.

Workplace Alienation

A job that’s stressful, isolating or boring can contribute to alcoholism and drug abuse. Research shows that alcoholism and drug abuse in the workplace is directly related to job autonomy, lack of control over work conditions and products, sexual harassment, disrespectful behaviour, lack of job complexity and verbal and physical aggression.

Alcohol and Drugs Availability

In workplace cultures where alcohol drinking on the job is strictly prohibited, alcoholism and other drug-related cases are very rare. According to a research on workers, they concluded that it was very easy to sneak in alcohol into the place of work, drinking at workstations and during breaks. To avoid this, organisations should strictly prohibit any form of drinking and drug abuse.

Supervision and Casual Drinking

The level of supervision also plays a huge role in this. For example, during the evening shifts when the supervision is reduced, research shows that employees were more likely to drink or use other drugs compared to day shifts when the supervision levels were high. Social drinkers and not the hard-core or heavy drinkers are the ones that lead to lost productivity in the workplace. Most come with a hangover that greatly affects their productivity. To curb this, organisations should establish comprehensive programs to address the issue of alcoholism and drug abuse in the workplace.

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