Providing Leadership in a Workplace Affected by Addiction

By | January 15, 2020

[January 15, 2020]  If you don’t think addiction in the workplace is a problem, you may be surprised to hear that it contributes to a loss of over $80 billion dollars in profits for businesses in the US each year. Some reasons for the lost revenues include decreased productivity, absenteeism, theft, increase in sick time, and a high turnover rate.

Considering that over 22 million Americans are currently in recovery for substance abuse issues, it makes sense to invest resources into developing and preserving a drug-free workplace. This may include offering treatment options for team members, staff, and employees that request this provision.

Addiction Affects Work

As long as your staff show up for work and do their job, you may think that you don’t have an addiction issues at your workplace. A good leader will recognize that Functioning addicts can cost the company in many ways, including morale, injuries, and trust. It is estimated that over 70% of those with chemical dependency issues still manage to hold down a job and ‘function’, however there are repercussions. These extend to more than mere profits; addicted individuals pose a hazard to those around them, putting the rest of your team at risk.

Be a Leader

So, what can leaders do? Learn the signs of alcohol and drug use and implement a testing protocol for those suspected of using at work. Intervene when a team member needs help or if you suspect there could be a problem. Be clear about your expectations and increase awareness among your staff about the risks and dangers of addiction in the workplace. There are sites and agencies that offer training, resources, and materials that may help you convey these messages to your team effectively.

Invest in Employee Assistance Programs

The key to addressing employee issues with substance abuse may lie in Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which have been found effective resources for getting people into active recovery. If you lead a smaller company or brand, you may find yourself in the position of trying to provide EAP services to your staff. Some things provided by these programs include counseling services, confidential evaluations, and referrals for resources related to substance abuse, like inpatient detox or outpatient programming.

If you think about what makes a good leader, it may be time to hone your own leadership skills as you combat addiction at your workplace. Practice communication, empathy, organization, follow-through, confidence, adaptability, integrity, delegation, and work on fostering the relationships that you have at work.


The take-away is that team leaders cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to substance abuse and addiction at work; need more help? Call the recovery experts at Sunshine Behavioral health to learn more about reducing the impacts of addiction on your workplace.

Author: Patrick Bailey

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

10 thoughts on “Providing Leadership in a Workplace Affected by Addiction

  1. JT Patterson

    Being a leader in everyday life, that’s what responsibility is all about.

  2. Willie Shrumburger

    I enjoyed your article from today, Mr. P. Bailey. Let us know what other articles you’ve published and how addiction is affecting “senior leaders” and not just the day-to-day worker.

    1. Eva Easterbrook

      Yes, and another reason to come back to the leadership website of Gen. Satterfield. There are a number of guest writers who’ve done an outstanding job. Mr. Bailey has written here before. The idea of drugs and alcohol in the workplace is well known and, sadly, very common and common in the obstacles thrown up around the negative impact it has.

  3. Tom Bushmaster

    Patrick. Thanks for your article. But combating addiction is a very tough thing to do. It’s tougher than most of us realize. It takes more than “Practice communication, empathy, organization, follow-through, confidence, adaptability, integrity, delegation, and work on fostering the relationships that you have at work.” It takes working with the family and that person’s social network.

    1. Eric Coda

      Hi. I think Patrick realizes that leaders must have a prominent role in helping the addicted overcome their problem (that many of them don’t realize that it is a problem for them). And, yes, the family and community also plays a part of the solution. Good commen

  4. Albert Ayer

    Thank you Patrick for an entertaining and informative blog post on an important subject for companies. Addiction is a huge problem in the workplace and it should not be ignored. I understand that about 10 percent of the population has had their lives ruined by illegal drugs and alcohol.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Yes, a big problem indeed. Mr. Bailey pushes us to ‘see’ the responsibility that leaders have in dealing with addiction. Leaders must be aware of those things that pull us downward and have proven strategies to help. Well done, Mr. B. Keep up the great writing.

    2. Georgie B.

      Good comment about 10% or so of the population that is destroyed by drugs/alcohol. I was a bit surprised to see that figure so high. 😊

  5. Army Captain

    Very good article, Patrick. Thanks, well written. Let us know if you have articles elsewhere.

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