The Cost of Addiction in the Workplace

silhouette of a man drinking at work

When you think of what addiction looks like, you may picture someone strung out and living on the street or maybe someone who seems to stay at home all day and do nothing but abuse the substance of choice. However, with millions of people struggling with addiction, the face of an addict has many forms. In fact, many addicts are able to hold and maintain jobs while simultaneously abusing drugs or alcohol. This can lead to workplace theft, a decrease in workplace productivity, increased sick days and absences, discord among co-workers, and more.

How Common is Workplace Addiction?

The issue of workplace addiction is a more common issue in the workforce today than most might even realize. As of 2011, over 70 percent of individuals struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction were still maintaining employment. With the drug epidemic only growing exponentially, the odds of working with someone battling addiction prove to be high. This prevalence of workplace addiction comes with a hefty price tag to companies and businesses. Addiction in the workplace costs employers an estimated $81 billion dollars according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Some sources even quote this number as being closer to $100 billion dollars.

Effects of Addiction in the Workplace

Despite the staggering monetary figure, the costs of workplace addiction go far beyond just financial issues. There are emotional, mental, and societal costs as well. Other employees are emotionally impacted by having a co-worker struggling with addiction and overall workplace morale can drop, affecting the productivity and efficiency of more than just the addicted employee. The likelihood of illegal activity occurring in the workplace is increased as well, thus increasing the likelihood of a public scene (like an arrest) occurring at the workplace and tarnishing the reputation of the employee and the company in the eyes of society.

Woman sitting at a table with a pill in one hand and a glass of alcohol in the other.

What can be done about workplace addiction? The answer lies in resources made available through Washington state drug rehab centers. Workplace substance abuse policies can be put into action by employers to help combat workplace addiction which can include tools like random drug screening and providing education on the hazards of drug and alcohol addiction.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs, or EAPs, provide short-term counseling and help connect employees with local Washington state drug rehab programs and services to help reach recovery. EAPs can also help employees find local peer groups to help maintain accountability for addiction behavior and be more willing to seek help to ultimately improve work performance. Workplaces can also incorporate therapeutic environment tips from Washington state drug rehab programs as this can help recovering addicts, and all employees, maintain a drug-free lifestyle and feel comfortable working in a positive environment. One recognized cause of workplace addiction is workplace alienation; when a job is done is isolation and lacks mental stimulation, the employee can be more prone to substance abuse behavior. Changing workplace culture can help prevent the roots of workplace addiction.

Group of young adults around a table high fiving.

Some addictions require further assistance than what can be provided through employers. If you or any of your co-workers or employees are struggling with addiction, learn more about admissions today and work toward a drug-free tomorrow.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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