With an estimated 2.2 million people addicted to some form of substance or activity, it could be possible that you may be working alongside colleague battling with addiction.
The Effect that Addiction Has on the Workplace
Drinking problems affect a huge percentage of the population with 1.6 million people dependent on alcohol, and a staggering 2.9 million people drinking to a harmful level. Drinking is becoming an increasing concern for employers, as 60% recently claimed that they have experienced problems with staff relating to issues with alcohol.
Other addictions such as drug dependency and sex addiction can also cause huge problems in the workplace. An estimated 1 million people will attend work with drugs in their system, ranging from cannabis to opiates, and 27% of employers state that drug misuse is a problem amongst its staff. Also 6% of the population are understood to suffer from sex addiction, which can lead to erratic and compulsive behaviour that can be so intense that it will replace the need to work, so addicts lose their jobs.
Common traits in an employed substance abuser include being late to work, poor productivity levels and a higher risk of being involved in a workplace accident. 14 billion working days are lost each year due to absenteeism and poor employee performance induced by the effects of addiction, which in turn costs the economy £6.4 billion a year.
To hopefully avoid the knock-on effects of addiction and substance abuse, some employers choose to implement a drug free workplace programme. Employers who action programmes like these find that theft, absenteeism and accidents decrease and notice that morale and productivity is boosted within the workplace.
The Trades Union Congress has also suggested that addiction should be handled by employers in the same way as sickness or incapability, rather than a disciplinary. This would then potentially encourage those struggling with addiction to come forward and seek help, rather than hide their problems due to fear of punishment.
Identifying Someone in the Workplace Suffering with an Addiction
Spotting the signs of addiction can be the first step towards seeking help for someone. An addict can often be spotted by behaviour that seems out of character that is backed up by excuses that leave doubt in your mind, or by extended periods of absence from the workplace. A breakdown in the employer/employee relationship may occur, which could be a reflection of any issues that the addict is facing outside of work. Those with addictions can be very good at deceiving others to detract attention from their behaviour, and act dishonestly to cover themselves.
If you are suffering from an addiction, or if you know someone who you think might be, it is important to make contact with the necessary health professionals as soon as possible to begin the necessary steps towards recovery. Treatment can range from cognitive behavioural therapy to residential rehabilitation.
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