Alcoholism and Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Esteri Maina
October 20, 2008 — 2,717 views  
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Alcoholism and substance abuse is a very common work related problem that human resource managers have had to encounter and solve.

Reliable surveys reveals that at least fifty percent of alcoholics are women, twenty five percent of them being white collar workers , forty five percent being in senior management positions while thirty seven percent happens to be fresh graduates after receiving their first paycheck.

When effects of alcohol and substance abuse on workers and work are severe, both the quantity and the quality of work decline radically.

At times, the personnel managers may not know in advance of such cases and therefore the co-workers are the ones who get afflicted by the conducts of an alcoholic.

It is not all HR personnel who fairly deal with alcoholics, some just dismiss them without helping them overcome their addiction, and perhaps paying them no benefits claiming that their irresponsibility destroyed the company's profitability.

As a human resource officer or personnel, it is your duty to manage the company employees as though they were a valued asset, and healthy issues should be a primary concern.

Observable behavior patterns of workers who are alcoholics and substance abusers.

This has four main stages which includes the following:

Early stage

During this stage, the following specific signs can be used to determine if someone is abusing alcohol and other substances like hard drugs. These are:

    Tardiness- this means that they will come to work late or will be sluggish while performing their duties.
  • Quit early from job without giving a damn if they have met their work deadlines or not.
  • Absence from the job
  • They will have a drink to relieve tension during the work breaks

The general behaviors that one should observe at this stage are:

    Complains from fellow workers- if you are an immediate supervisor of that line of management where someone is thought to be linked to alcoholic and substance abuse, you must not underrate the co-workers complains.
  • Overreaction- if you as a HR personnel or supervisor, take a step to ask them about his behaviors that end up affecting the co-workers.
  • Complains of sickness often, so he can be excused to go and drink.
  • Make false statements especially if asked how far he has gone with a particular project

Job performance during the early stages comprises of:

    The person feared to be abusing alcohol or other substances misses the deadlines set for the task he is accountable for.
  • His work is not effective because it has lots of errors and end up being repeated by another person.
  • He has low efficiency when performing the assigned tasks

Middle stage

During this stage, the following specific signs can be used to determine cases of alcohol and substance abuse. These include:

    They become undependable in the sense they can not be trusted when they say they will perform a task on time or effectively.
  • Every time they are asked why they were not present at work they appear to feel guilty about it.
  • They start avoiding fellow workers
  • They start borrowing money from close fellow employees and lying about its use
  • Frequent hospitalization and minor injuries on the head, hands, neck and so on

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Esteri Maina