It’s a bigger problem than you think.

It may be tempting to think that those who struggle with addiction exist outside of professional America. But the reality is the majority of those with a drug or alcohol problem are still employed— meaning that it’s important to understand how drug and alcohol usage can affect the workplace. 

  1. Over 70% of Americans with a drug or alcohol problem continue to work– substance abuse is not an isolated problem and could be affecting you, your coworkers, or your employees. 
  2. Drug and alcohol use increases workplace injuries and fatalities16% of all workplace related emergency room visits involved alcohol. 
  3. 1 in 25 Americans tested positive for drugs in workplace drug screenings in 2018, the highest it’s been in 14 years.
  4. Those with an opioid addiction miss 18.5 more days of work than those who are drug-free, leading to other problems like:
  5. Those with a drug and alcohol problems are less productive and perform more poorly than their drug-free counterparts.
  6. Because of this, employee drug and alcohol problems cost businesses around $193 billion annually. 
  7. Opioid addiction has permanent negative effects on the local labor market, as it makes it costlier for employees to seek out labor, leading them to turn to automation instead, which decreases available jobs.
  8. Of those Americans who needed addiction treatment in 2011, only 10% actually received it. This is often because people feel like they can’t afford treatment or they are not able to take off work. 
  9. Treatment for those in the workplace works– within a year of seeking treatment, employee absenteeism and employment problems decreased.
  10. 65% of employees who underwent treatment were still employed with the same employer a year later.

Alcoholism and drug addiction can cost employers and their employees millions of dollars over the course of a year— it’s a problem that must be addressed. “Don’t avoid this problem— it’s something that must be addressed,” says In The Rooms co-founder Ken Pomereance. Thankfully, it is not a problem without a solution. As an employer, you can help your employees who struggle with substance abuse by doing five simple things. 


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