The accessible statistics affirm the apparent detrimental effects of the alcoholism and drug abuse in the workplace. This behavioral issue presents a serious problem in the workplace. Besides affecting the health, well-being, and safety of the individual employee, the behavior also affects the productivity, safety and the welfare of the entire workplace. The purpose of this issue paper includes exploring the concern of alcoholism and drug, which is a behavioral issue of a great challenge in the workplace. Initially, the paper provides a description of the issue while highlighting the prevalence of the habit. Furthermore, the causal factors for this behavioral issue and the strategies for preventing or minimizing its impacts in the workplace are discussed.
Description of the Behavioral Issue and Its Prevalence
The issue presents as an occupational health and safety concern when person’s judgment, coordination, alertness and concentration is affected at the workplace (Glen et al., 2014). This is because such conditions may result to increased risk of injury or illness. Workers affected by this behavior may present a hazard in the workplace, injuring themselves and others. Alcoholism and drug abuse habit can cause various problems to employers. These include increased injuries, loss of life, damage to equipment, and ruining the reputation of the business.
Recent studies highlight that the use of alcohol and other drugs in the workplace has presented an increasing trend in the last decades. In reference to recent accounts, about 62% of adults in the United States with the problems of substance abuse are employed full time. Studies further highlight that 79% of heavy drinkers are employed. Furthermore, from group of people who use illicit drugs, 75% are employed (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2010). This means that most employees are engaging in illicit or harmful alcohol use. However, the available statistics show that the rates of the unhealthy substance use vary with the occupation. The highest rates of substance abuse are mainly recorded in the individuals working in the construction, sports, food service, art and design and media (TUC, 2010). Workers may take alcohol or drugs when at work or while off duty. According to a recent survey, over 7% of Americans use alcohol during their workdays and 9% have at least worked while struggling with hangover (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2010). Relatively similar patterns present in other countries, which affirms that the problem of alcoholism and drug use in the workplace is of global relevance. For example, studies highlight that about 1.5 million people are addicted to alcohol and drug use in the UK (TUC, 2010). TUC study further asserts that, 27% of employers agree that the drug misuse is an issue in the workplace while 60% have witnessed problems due to workers who are under alcohol influence (TUC, 2010).
Causal Factors for the Behavioral Issue
Work-related stress is a major causal factor associated with alcoholism and use of drug in the workplace. A number of people use alcohol to cope with the work-related frustrations. Both personal and social factors can assume a vital role in the establishment of this habit (Glen et al., 2014). However, the common causal factors linked to the habit include work-related aspects such as high stress, low job satisfaction, fatigue, isolation, irregular shifts and long hours, boredom, repetitious duties and easy access to isolation. Other important causal factors include financial challenges, harassment, interpersonal conflicts, lack of participation in decision-making, unrealistic performance targets and family and relationship problems among others (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2010). These factors present an influential force that pressures workers into using alcohol and drugs while at the workplace. This is because many workers find alcohol and drugs as the only solution to their bothering and demanding works (Glen et al., 2014). For example, some workers take drugs to combat fatigue following long period of work. Furthermore, factors such as boredom and easy access to alcohol create a predisposing environment that encourages workers to use substances.
Strategies for Preventing or Responding to the Behavioral Issue to Minimize Impacts in the Workplace
In acknowledging the apparent effect of alcoholism and drug use in the workplace, governments, labor agencies and employers should gear their effort towards addressing this issue. There is the need of fostering a healthy and safety of employees by creating a welcoming and safe working environment (Glen et al., 2014). The strategic interventions for minimizing the effect of this issue should focus on addressing the identified causal factors, especially the work related aspects that promote the development of the habit of substance use. Tactical policy blueprints should be designed that guides on the effective measures that must be observed to address substance use in the workplace.
The key principles to guide these plans should focus on Prevention, Counseling, Educating and Rehabilitation arrangement. The prevention strategy should aim at eliminating predisposing factors that may make or encourage workers to engage in substance abuse. This should include providing a welcoming work environment free of harassment, mismatched duties, unrealistic targets, poor remuneration or subjecting employees to long working hours and irregular shifts among others (Glen et al., 2014). The counseling approach should be employed to both the workers already affected by the behavior and the ones who are not practicing it. Individuals already using substances should be encouraged to stop the habit and be counseled on how to withdraw from it successfully. Education should focus on creating awareness regarding the idea of substance abuse and the significance of being observant to the issue. Lastly, rehabilitative programs should be organized for workers already affected severely by the habit.
Glen R., H. et al. (2014). Drugs and Society. New York: Jones & Bartlett Publishers
National Drug Intelligence Center (2010). National Threat Assessment: The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice.
TUC (2010). Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace: Guidance for Workplace Representatives. Health and Safety. Retrieved on 11th April 2014, from https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/drugsalcoholinworkplace.pdf