Employee Substance Abuse Problems essay example

842 words
Substance Abuse In the Workplace Substance abuse can lead to serious long-term consequences at every workplace. No single solution will work for every place of business; each workplace must identify which combination of policies, practices, benefits and support systems can best meet its needs. Understanding which solutions work for each employer will result in more precise, responsible decisions for their businesses, and more importantly, their employees. Substance abuse is taken the wrong way by most people. Contrary to popular belief, health care costs are not always higher for substance abusers on payroll. Health care costs of substance abusers families are substantially reduced when treatment is continued by the substance abuser.

Most employed substance abusers can be treated in the least expensive, least inhibiting treatment settings enabling them to work during treatment without taking any time off. Treatment success is elevated when substance abusers are classified early and have strong social support. Two group-level social features will moderate employee vulnerability to coworker substance use. The first being cohesiveness and drinking climate. The second is the proportion of jobs involving risk and mobility.

Employee substance abuse problems have parallel effects on fellow workers. Individual factors such as job stress may increase sensitivity to collateral effects. Work group factors such as occupational or social norms that tolerate drinking may enhance the probability of risk. These effects have been overlooked before, but work groups represent job conditions that moderate the impact of exposure.

Sociological theories of workplace substance use and of stress implicate the individual in the context of the group. Some of the workplace factors that contribute to employee substance abuse include job stress, drug availability, workplace culture, social control, an alienation. The work groups play a big role in moderating the effects of each of these factors. Theories of stress also point to the importance of groups, either in how the individual experiences the relationship between self and their social network or through exposure to stresses presented by others.

These two casual factors-relationship and exposure-overlap within the context of the group. Individuals react more strongly to stresses within groups that lack cohesiveness. Other factors support a multilevel perspective for explaining vulnerability to coworker substance abuse. First, employees may work in occupational groups in which the subculture or social climate tolerates substance use (Trice and Sonnenstuhl 1990). Studies find no relationship between occupation and substance use do not define occupation in cultural terms but instead gather workers with similar job titles into census categories. This gathers people who do not have the same beliefs about work or drinking, and confuses the cultural entity, occupation, with the structural features of the job.

Second, innovations in work organizations show many companies developing team-based work groups (Howard 1995; Smith 1997) These approaches represent a de centered form of organizational control; disciplinary action moves down the hierarchy from the hands of supervisors and diffuses into the hands of team-mates (Smith 1997). Teamwork actually seems to diminish employee drinking. Third, an emphasis on the work group is consistent with recent trends among workplace wellness and risk prevention programs that define health and safety at group and organizational levels. Work site prevention research points to the positive impact of a supportive work environment on alcohol reduction (Roman and Blum 1996). Finally, Walsh and colleagues (Walsh 1993) propose a multilevel model for workplace alcohol problem research that applies to both alcohol and drug use. They suggest using the work group as the unit of analysis when predicting individual problems and conceptualize risk as including corporate culture, work site norms, and social norms at the group level.

Employees who are hung over at work are more likely to report serious arguments and fighting with coworkers. Substance abuse at work correlates with withdrawal behaviors such as letting the coworkers do the work as well as arguing and disobeying. These antisocial behaviors will have less impact in-groups that have higher levels of cohesiveness. Jobs such as construction and skilled labor show more job-related substance use. They face both physical and psychological consequences of accidental risks. When an intoxicated worker is careless, the physical potential for equipment damage, accidents involving others, and hazardous chemical exposure exists.

Occupations involving less social control such as limited supervision may also contribute to alcohol problems through ease of access. Truck drivers were found with relatively high levels of marijuana and cocaine use. Also, in comparison with six occupations, truck drivers report the highest frequency of drunkenness. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act offer job protection to employees taking leave to receive treatment for drug and alcohol problems. Staying informed about substance abuse treatment options, ensuring benefits packages provide a full continuum of care and including coverage of continuing care group sessions in insurance packages to keep recovering employees on the right track.