Addiction in the Workplace: The Canadian Experience
Addiction and substance abuse is a big expense in the workplace, for employers and employees. According to one source, “substance abuse costs Canada almost $40 billion a year in loss of productivity, increased health care and the cost of police and other government involvement.” This is felt by consumers when cost of doing business is added to product or service prices. Employees feel the costs of their addiction as lost wages and increased medical expenses from co-occurring illnesses. Coworkers must make up for poor productivity and are frequently the victim of workplace accidents caused by substance abusers. Promising careers have been lost to out of control addictions.
Health and safety is expected in any workplace, so the risks posed by addiction cannot be allowed. A drug-free workplace is more likely to be successful at maintaining an accident free environment and prosperous business.
Company policies should be clearly defined. Employers must make reasonable accommodation efforts for employees who seek help with drug addiction and alcoholism, allowing time off for detox or counseling. This approach is recommended for encouraging businesses to invest in their employees and reduce total long-term costs related to substance abuse. Voluntary disclosure allows treatment without risk of being fired and eases the stigma related to addiction.
All employees should be held responsible for the same work requirements and standards of conduct. It is possible that a person with substance use disorder may be considered to have a disability and have specific rights, but they also have a responsibility to strive for health and treatment. Showing up to work drunk or strung-out should, after reasonable efforts have been made to get an individual into treatment, result in termination of employment. Seeking treatment before a problem happens at work is a wise decision.
Many people from all walks of life suffer with addiction. Seeking help and advice from a professional treatment center can answer questions and offer hope for finding a solution to substance abuse of any kind.