June 14, 2013



Employee wellness: Drug-free workplace

By Lisa Linck

Alcohol and drug abuse by employees causes many expensive problems for business and industry ranging from lost productivity, injuries and an increase in health insurance claims. The prescription drugs most often abused include painkillers, sedatives, anti-anxiety medications and stimulants.

About 2.3 million emergency room visits were made in 2010 because of reactions to drugs. Narcotic pain relievers, also known as opioids, accounted for more than 400,000 of these visits — SAMHSA, 2012.

Abuse of alcohol and other drugs not only impacts performance at work, it also affects people emotionally, behaviorally and physically. Notify your supervisor immediately if you suspect someone may have an addiction problem.

Performance effects:

  • Inconsistent quality of work
  • Errors in judgment
  • Lowered productivity
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Disregard for safety
  • Careless mistakes
  • Long lunch periods and early departures

Emotional effects:

  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Burnout
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Denial

Behavioral effects:

  • Slow reaction time
  • Excessive talking
  • Impaired coordination
  • Inability to sit still
  • Slowed or slurred speech
  • Limited attention span
  • Irritability
  • Poor motivation and lack of energy

Physical effects:

  • Weight loss
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Smell of alcohol

Seeking help

K-State Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, services are available:

  • An assistance program can help you decide what to do if you have a problem with alcohol or other drugs
  • An assistance program also can help you decide what to do if someone in your family or workgroup has a problem
  • Conversations with an EAP are confidential

Other helpful sources:

  • Community hotlines
  • Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.
  • Community mental health centers
  • Private therapists or counselors
  • Addiction treatment centers

Source: National Safety Council

Additional resources:

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