Cultivating a Drug-Free Workplace

By | June 16, 2018

By guest blogger Dale Vernor [See Biography]

[June 16, 2018]  Being unemployed is a common assumption most people have when it comes to the topic of drug or alcohol abusers, however, authorities on the topic show something much more different. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 70 percent of all illegal drug users are in fact employed.

Considering this, substance use and abuse should be a serious concern for employers and business leaders. In a time where mostly all companies are putting great emphasis on assuring employee it is crucial that business leaders have strategies in place to cultivate a drug-free workplace.

Substance Abuse Has a Huge Impact on Profits

Drug and alcohol abuse negatively impacts a business in various ways, such as lost productivity, workplace accidents, injuries, employee absenteeism, increased illness, work strain, and low employee morale. It is estimated that drug users, directly and indirectly, cost businesses more than a hundred billion dollars every year.

How can Business Leaders Cultivate a Drug-Free Workplace?

Given the importance of promoting a drug-free workplace not only for the organization, but for the employees as well, here are some ways business leaders can bring about a healthier and happier workplace.

  1. Create a Clear Drug-Free Workplace Policy

A written program that clearly defines the company’s standard about alcohol and drug use, including substances that are prohibited, the types of testing that will be given, and the rights and responsibilities of employees. A comprehensive written policy will institutionalize the program and help create a drug-free work culture.

  1. Health and Education Campaigns

Employee well-being can increase greatly with the proper health and education campaigns. Taking time to educate employees on healthy ways to cope with stress, depression anxiety and even pain, could drastically reduce chances of drug abuse among your employees. Some people do not know the benefits of meditation, massage, stretching, and basic exercise. Even having a gym membership for your employees is a great gesture that will show you care about your employee’s well-being.

  1. Empower Employees to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

A common reason people use drugs or alcohol is because of stress and anxiety. Business leaders should take the time to listen to employer concerns and work to find solutions. Even checking up on your employees randomly to see how their lives are going can help. Many employees just want to know that they are valued and that upper management cares about them. This movement has to start at the top and work its way down to the lowest level employees.

Create an Employee Assistance Program

More than being a police officer or a judge, business leaders should provide assistance to their employees who are suffering from substance abuse. Assistance may be in the form of counseling, or even a trip to a luxury drug rehab. Showing that you are willing to invest your employees and their well-being can result in a sober and loyal employee for years on end.

Include Substance Abuse Treatment in the Company’s Health Insurance Policy

To encourage and assist employees who are struggling with alcohol or drug use, business leaders should consider expanding their company’s health insurance policy to cover substance abuse treatment.

Hold Social Events and Activities that Relieve Stress and Celebrate Safety and Good Health

Studies have shown how persistent stress can increase a person’s vulnerability to substance abuse, which is why business leaders should consider holding events and activities that will relieve the stress of employees. Company outings, random surprises and even an hour event during the work day on occasions can all help boost employee morale.

Cultivating a Drug-Free Work Environment Starts at the Top

The best business leaders lead by example. If you are preaching a drug-free and stress-free workplace than it is crucial that you yourself are doing what needs to be done to make this happen. Participate in activities with your employees and show them that you are committed to this initiative. Employees want to see a leader who can walk it like he or she talks it.

Author: Dale Vernor

Dale is a writer and researcher in the fields of addiction, mental health and culture. After earning his B.A. in Professional Communication, Dale has decided to dedicate his career to helping reduce the stigma of both addiction and mental health in our society. When not working you can find Dale at your local basketball court.

12 thoughts on “Cultivating a Drug-Free Workplace

  1. Albert Ayer

    It is always good to see a good article on a drug-free workplace and educational comments from readers. Thanks to all.

  2. Georgia Rose

    Dale, great article! I’ve just tracked you down from my site as you sent me a message on it earlier. The email address you left is not working so could you contact me again please with another one if that is possible? Many thanks. Georgia

  3. Darryl Sitterly

    Hey Dale. Thanks for your article on a drug-free workplace. Now I see many states legalizing marijuana and lowering the level of crime on other mind-altering drugs. In my argument, those drugs that alter one’s ability to make good judgments. How do you square this within your article that people are looking to reduce the effect of illegal drug use in the workplace?

  4. Doug Smith

    Good article and thanks for sharing it.

  5. Janna Faulkner

    Good article on a subject often rejected as important. Thanks.

  6. Dennis Mathes

    Hi Dale. Thanks for your contribution to Gen Satterfield’s leadership website. It is always good to see what others are writing about and what concerns them. As leaders, we need to always be on the lookout for what destroys not just productivity but destroys people and their families. There are many drugs (illegal and legal) that do just that.

  7. Max Foster

    Very educational. Thanks Dale for your thoughtful article today.

    1. dale vernor

      thank you all for your kind remarks. As for medical marijuana, I would say depending on the industry you are in it may or may not be something to worry about. If you are working with heave machines or any industry where injury is prominent I would still be opposed to it. However, in an office setting, there should be some leniency towards medical marijuana users.

      1. Nancy J

        Hi Dale. I worked for a drug abuse and intervention program for years. I can say from my experience that marijuana does effect ones judgement and state of mind whether it be medical or recreational. So how does one gage leniency?

        1. Dale Vernor

          Nancy, good point. I would say that depending on their mental health or physical health and also I would not allow them to come into work high on marijuana. I would, in my position I would tolerate them to test positive for marijuana if you implemented drug testing at your work. Like any other prescription, it should be okay to have in their system but coming into work high or smelling like marijuana would be unacceptable.

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