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Family Guidance Blog

Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Substance Abuse Will Eventually Impact Your Employee’s Performance

substance abuseAs the boss or owner in your office or place of work, you have the right to set expectations for that environment. You can’t, however, control what employees do in their off time. But what happens when someone’s off-time behaviors start to impact their work-time performance? With substance abuse, it is a scenario that can happen.

This might sound like a rare problem, but statistics show it happens more than you might think. Data collected between 2008-2012 shows that nearly 10 percent of workers are misusing substances. The facts indicate that 8.7 percent of 18-65 year olds employed full-time had abused alcohol during the month prior. Another 8.6 percent took illicit drugs during the previous month and 9.5 percent had developed a substance dependency over the past 12 months. It’s a problem that is probably affecting someone in your workplace right now.

Here are some things you can do as you become aware of substance abuse within your company:
Understand the risks in your industry – some careers are more susceptible to substance misuse or abuse. Low risk industries include hard sciences and accounting. High-risk industries include professional medicine, food services, lawyers and law enforcement. Find out how at-risk your industry may be.

Know the signs of abuse. When you notice red eyes, drastic weight change, nosebleeds, increased absence or tardiness, poor personal hygiene or increased moodiness – take note. These could be warning signs.

Talk with an attorney before confronting an employee, but when you do, be prepared to suggest help. It’s also a good idea to document any discussions or interactions you have with the employee on the subject. Here in St Joseph, Family Guidance Center is a resource available to provide help. We can safeguard confidentiality while helping a once-valuable employee return to a healthy and productive work life.

Popular ADHD Medications a Source of Substance Abuse on College Campuses

substance abuseMost of us are sympathetic to the pressures of college. While incoming college freshmen may focus on school as their first “on-their-own” life experience, as students progress through college and approach graduation the reality of adulthood becomes a looming presence. That can mean an increasing pressure to perform well academically.

As the perceived pressure to earn good grades increases, students sometimes look for ways to gain a competitive edge. According to a meta-study conducted through the University of South Carolina more than one-sixth of college kids are turning to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medications to find that edge. Students are abusing drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta in hopes of improving study times, test-taking and overall academic performance.

The problem of stimulant substance abuse is a growing concern since more and more children are being diagnosed and prescribed treatment with these medications. This means that there are more entering college freshmen every year taking the drugs. Patients with an ADHD prescription are a popular source of supply for those engaged in illicit substance abuse.

Researchers chose 30 previous studies on the subject for their meta-analysis. Investigation showed that those most likely to be involved with stimulant substance abuse were white male upperclassmen with fraternity membership. Although these young men took the drugs to boost their scholastic prowess, the research showed that non-users actually perform better academically.

If you suspect your college student may be struggling with substance abuse, don’t look the other way hoping that it will end on graduation day. Instead, call and talk to one of our mental health professionals at Family Guidance. We can help guide you in approaching your child and provide step by step counsel in changing a dangerous pattern.

Guarding Against Substance Abuse in Later Years

As the baby boomer generation heads into retirement, the country will be populated by a larger than ever demographic of older (over 55) citizens. The truth is that not all of those entering their golden years are prepared to handle the challenges of retirement and older age. AnRecovery 1 alarming number of seasoned citizens are turning to substance abuse as they begin to feel overwhelmed.

A Growing Problem

Close to 3 million older adults suffer from alcohol abuse, a figure that is expected to double to 6 million by 2020. And while most seniors take one or more legal prescription medications, the rate of illicit drug use increased more than double from 2002-2013. Substance abuse is becoming a growing problem among older Americans.

One decade-long study of 52-75 year olds has revealed that while retirement is a major contributor to substance abuse, it is not the sole factor. The end of a working career is just one significant change among a host of changes which take place as people transition into retirement age. Few are prepared to cope with the avalanche of change.

Many Changes in a Short Time Span
Lack of daily structure and work is certainly one tremendous adjustment created by retirement. But so is the resulting financial constraint most people face. At the same time, crumbling health, the loss of friends (through death or relocation) and lack of social connection combine to overwhelm those not prepared to deal with so much change and loss.

Awareness and Mental Health
Awareness is a powerful guard against substance abuse after retirement. Understanding the scope of change in advance can be preventive. Nonetheless, not until a person is in the midst of the change and loss can they truly understand its impact. If you are tempted to blunt the loneliness and sense of purposelessness created by retirement with alcohol or drugs, consider talking with someone instead.

Family Guidance has decades of experience helping individuals and families navigate through the troubled waters of loss, depression and change. It is possible to learn how to cope even with momentous changes. Let us show you how.

Small Businesses and Employee Substance Abuse

If you own a small business (fewer than 500 employees) random drug testing and substance policies mayRecovery 1 seem like things only large companies need to address. Yet a large percent of illegal drug users and heavy drinkers work for small businesses. And their behavior on and off duty has a definite impact on your bottom line.

If your workers have a substance abuse problem with drugs or alcohol, it’s something that deserves your attention – even if it is taking place after work hours. Here are just a few reasons why you should be working toward a drug-free work environment.

1. Poor Job Performance
If your worker is abusing substances on the job, this could lead to a serious deterioration in job performance. If the person is operating heavy equipment or dangerous machinery, the risks are serious. But even if the person is using substances after work or on weekends, drops in job performance are likely. This means that fellow workers will need to fill in the gaps and may feel unsafe around the abusing employee.

2. Increased Insurance Costs
If employees are abusing alcohol or drugs you can expect to see increased claims on insurance or workman’s compensation and a subsequent increase in premiums.

3. Absenteeism and Attrition
Individuals involved with substance abuse have trouble getting to work regularly and on time. Substance abusers are apt to have had more than three jobs during the last year and to have not come to work at least twice in the past 30 days.

In case you wonder how likely it is that your employees are struggling with substance abuse consider the following:

  • Over 65 percent of adult illegal drug users are full or part-time workers
  • 64 percent of adult workers use alcohol
  • 4 percent of adult binge drinkers are employed
  • 9 percent of heavy drinkers are workers

Don’t assume that this problem doesn’t affect you or your employees. Call Family Guidance Center today and talk to us about how to set up a drug testing program or arrange for a substance abuse presentation at your workplace. We also offer a Substance Abuse Training Program (SATOP) for your employees that need to regain driving privileges after a substance abuse offense.

Anxiety and Substance Abuse Show up Together and Should be Treated Together

Anxiety 1When your life is a steady buzz of anxiety, it can be quite tempting to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. A glass of wine or a joint smoked in the evening can make you feel more at ease and free of the constant worry and tension. Unfortunately, dealing with anxiety in this way tends to only create another problem – substance abuse. These two problems frequently show up together and when the person is at last ready to deal with one of these issues, they actually need to tackle both in order to find true recovery.

The habit of easing anxiety with substances is fraught with peril, because dulling the anxiety is paramount. Over time, the body develops tolerance for the substance –whether alcohol or drugs- and pretty soon, it take more than a single glass of wine or just one joint to feel relaxed. Before the person realizes it, they are drinking more alcohol or using more of the drug just to maintain the same level of calm.

The two problems of anxiety disorder and substance abuse frequently go hand in hand. In fact, it can go the other direction too. Individuals with an alcohol or drug dependency may wind up developing an anxiety problem, because these substances can actually cause anxiety and panic attacks. For this reason, once the person decides to deal with one issue, they really need to address both.

At first, anxiety symptoms may worsen as the person gives up substance use, but eventually the anxiety levels will go down. Since pharmaceutical-based therapies can themselves be addicting, most experts suggest non-pharmacy treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) along with a support group. The CBT will be useful in learning healthy strategies for managing anxiety while the support group will give ongoing encouragement throughout the recovery from substances.

If you are a person who struggles with anxiety, don’t try to handle the problem on your own and definitely not with dulling substances like drugs and alcohol. Instead, call a professional who knows how to guide you in managing anxiety and overcoming substance use. The Family Guidance Center of St Joseph knows all about how these two issues are interrelated and they can help you find relief.