Last updated: November 27, 2023
Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace is common, with prescription drugs beginning to take the place of many illegal drugs.
That’s a big deal because drug and alcohol use have a direct negative impact on productivity, profitability, and employee morale.
But by being proactive and paying attention, it’s relatively easy to keep most, if not all drugs and alcohol out of the workplace.
Be Selective in Hiring
It’s always easier to avoid the problem than to fix it, so carefully screen your applicants; verify credentials, check references, run a background check, and conduct pre-employment drug testing. Before making the final decision, many HR experts recommend having applicants meet their potential coworkers to make sure they can work well together. When you avoid hiring substance abusers, you’ve eliminated 95% of the risk.
Get to Know Your Employees
It’s easy for drug and alcohol use to fly under the radar if you don’t know your employees. That’s why it’s so important to get to know them on a personal level. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending time with them outside of work, you just need to know their personality so that you can identify when something may be off.
Create a Positive Work Environment
When someone loves their job, most will go above and beyond what’s expected of them, but when they feel like they are treated poorly, things can go downhill fast. I once worked at a company where management routinely tried to create division among employees to keep everyone isolated and hide the fraud that was going on. As a result, nearly everyone would arrive late, take extended lunch breaks, and even drink alcohol in coffee cups. It didn’t take long for that company to collapse.
Know the Signs
Drug and alcohol abuse often present signs. Someone with a substance abuse problem will rarely look like the stereotypical addict you might see on television—the signs are much more subtle, such as frequently missing work, physical health issues, lack of energy and motivation, neglected appearance, changes in behavior, and money problems. Learn what to look for, and when you couple that knowledge with getting to know your employees, you can be more proactive in keeping drugs and alcohol out of your workplace.
Offer Educational Resources
Depending on the circumstances, you may want to consider providing educational resources about preventing and treating substance abuse, or even a list of local counseling and treatment centers. Embarrassment or shame might prevent employees from seeking these materials or information, so they should be able to access them anonymously. You could leave them in a break room.
Conduct Random Drug Testing
A random drug testing program conducted in accordance with federal and local laws is the best way to prevent current employees from using drugs and alcohol because they know it could cost them their job. A program like this is easy to implement because USAMDT comes to your location and does all testing on-site, and it’s very inexpensive. In fact, most workers comp policies offer a discount of up to 15% when you have a drug testing program in place.