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Substance abuse in the workplace

August 12, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Staff Writer , Salem News

LISBON -Addiction has no place in the workplace. It isn't just the health and safety of the addict who is at risk. Alcohol, illicit drugs, over-the-counter drugs, anything that affects how your brain processes information when impaired, can harm someone else. If stopping addiction for the addict's well-being isn't reason enough to stop, is the safety of others reason enough?

It is reported that one in 10 people become alcoholic. Think about that for a moment. How many cars are on the highways? How many substance-impaired drivers are behind the wheel? Consider that when you're in rush-hour traffic. Who is operating that overhead crane? Who is operating the front-loader? Who is holding your ladder? How many people with a substance abuse problem does it take to cause an accident that harms others? Just one.

"The personal impact of substance abuse on an employee can be devastating," reports Safety Daily Advisor, a daily safety-tips newsletter. "The substance abuser may end up losing everything including family, home, friends, savings, job, physical and mental health."

On the job, poor work performance, unreliability and recklessness threaten the safety of co-workers, company reputation and the quality of products and services the company provides.

You do have the right to do whatever you want on your own time, but what about when your off-time activities overlap on someone else's? On your employer's? For instance, the Bureau of Worker's Compensation (BWC) advises that marijuana can be detected for 30 days after use. And while many people think of marijuana as a "soft" drug, it is not. It is 20 times more potent today than it was in the 1960s. You just don't know what you are taking into your body, what it's going to do to you. Short version: Substance abuse is risky business.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act is a federal law enacted by Congress in 1988. Any contractor or grantee must abide by this law which requires that the company make known in written form what the rules are in regard to drug use in the workplace. This information explains in detail the company's stand on substance abuse in the workplace:

No use.

No distribution.

No selling.

No making.

Additionally there should be a drug awareness program to inform employees of the risks of addiction and effects in the workplace. Individuals who have been convicted of criminally violating drug-free workplace rules must report to their employer who must report it to the government entity for which they are working as well as disciplining the employee, which could mean being released from employment. The process doesn't end there, but your employer can provide you the information regarding the company policies on drugs in the workplace.

BWC cites the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) information that states, "From 1999 to 2008, the number of drug poisoning deaths more than tripledAlso, for every unintentional opioid analgesics overdose death there are nine people admitted for substance abuse treatment, 35 emergency department visits and 161 reports of drug abuse or dependence." All of those are not on the job, but the experts agree the trend of painkiller abuse across the nation does include recovering workers.

Eloise V. Traina, executive director of Family Recovery Center said, "Family Recovery Center's business programs are designed for employers who are interested in maintaining a drug-free workplace. Such services include pre-employment and random drug testing of employees; trainings approved for BWC discounting; employee health programs including the use of Suboxone and Vivitrol medication assisted treatment. Employee assistance programming is important to the employer to maintain a good bottom line."

The BWC advises, "Alcoholism and drug abuse have been called 'democratic diseases' because they can victimize anyone regardless of age, sex, education, social status or occupation."

Addiction is not the intention, but it happens. But recovery happens, too. For more information about substance abuse in the workplace and recovery from addiction contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities and is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

 
 

 

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