Scary Truths About the Workplace: Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
While the Scotch-drinking workplace culture of the 1950’s and 1960’s may have seen its heyday, some recent studies have shown that nearly a quarter of upper management workers drink during the work day (most of them at work). In 2012, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Absenteeism reported that 17 million Americans aged 18+ have a drinking problem. Considering those numbers, the likelihood that you have an alcoholic-or a dozen of them-working under you is quite high. Alcoholism can negatively affect employees’ performance, attendance, rate of on-the-job injury or death, and quality of relationships and corporate culture and is a significant issue that needs your attention.
What you can do as a leader: First and foremost, protect yourself, the company, and the employee. Consult with a lawyer and your HR department to determine what policies are or need to be in place regarding workplace drug and alcohol use, and proceed after being legally advised. Second, resist the temptation to become personally involved with the using employee outside of work hours. Most recovery programs teach that the only ones who can ultimately guide an addict along the path to recovery are the addict himself and God. When possible and appropriate, provide employees-confidentially and discreetly-with resources for recovery. Encourage them time to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, allowing them to make up the hour or so of work they are away at a different time, or to take vacation time to attend meetings. AA and NA, which are both free, faith-based, 12-step recovery programs, have proven to lead to miraculous recoveries for many addicts.
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