Substance abuse can be a challenging issue to face. Often, stress factors from other areas of life, including work, can worsen substance use. From both an employer’s and employee’s perspective, it is important to understand the relationship between addiction and the workplace
How Work Plays a Role in Addiction
A person’s work can often be a hindrance to their ability to seek treatment. Work can often be a major source of stress in life, and that stress has a direct relation to the chance of developing a substance abuse problem. A survey showed that 83% of workers in the United States feel stressed at work, while 63% claim they are ready to leave their jobs as a result of that stress.
Work can be incredibly stressful and take a severe toll on the mental well-being of employees. This problem only becomes more serious when accounting for the relationship between stress and substance abuse. The effects of stress on the brain are similar to the impact of chronic addiction. A person who is often stressed is more vulnerable to developing a substance addiction and will be more likely to relapse even after treatment.
A full-time job will also take up a lot of time and energy that a person may otherwise put towards treatment. In an ideal situation, an employer should show understanding of their employee’s desire to seek help for a substance issue. However, many programs take up time during work hours, and inpatient treatments require a stay within the facility that often lasts at least one month. Unfortunately, not everyone may be in a situation where their employer shows this level of understanding.
For people who feel that they need treatment but are unable or unwilling to miss work as a result, evening programs are available. Evening programs are an outpatient treatment service that occurs at night to avoid daytime conflicts with work or school. These can be beneficial to many professionals who need treatment for a substance use or mental health issue. If the issue is severe enough, though, inpatient treatment will still be the recommendation.
Signs of Workplace Substance Use
If an employer suspects that one of their employees may have a substance abuse problem, it is important to look out for certain signs. Even if a person is “functioning,” meaning that the effects of their addiction are not always readily apparent, there are usually still signs of substance abuse in their work. Some possible symptoms of substance use in the workplace include:
- The employee is caught stealing, or items around them keep going missing
- The employee shows up to work late or often appears unusually tired
- The employee falls asleep at work or appears “out of it”
- The employee shows signs of mood swings or irritability
- The employee is making more mistakes in their work than usual
- The employee struggles with concentration or is forgetful
- The employee begins to appear disheveled, or there is a sudden loss of personal hygiene
- The employee is working less efficiently and taking longer to accomplish even small tasks
- The employee finds excuses to leave their work area often, such as using the bathroom or leaving the building for short periods
The Role of Employers in Addiction at the Workplace
Although many employers may show unwillingness to be flexible with their employees while they seek treatment, they need to understand the negative effects addiction has in the workplace. Addiction and substance abuse in the workplace cost businesses in the United States an average of $81 billion every year due to productivity loss, high turnover rates, theft, and sick time. Alcohol and drug use also increases the number of injuries in the workplace.
Employers should be empathetic towards the struggles their employees are facing and recognize that by supporting better health for their employees, they will see long-term benefits. If an employee needs time to work on their mental health or learn how to manage their substance abuse problem, employers will see a benefit by allowing them to do so. Depending on the level of treatment needed, this might involve letting an employer leave early a few days a week or giving them an extended absence to enter an inpatient treatment facility.
Finding Treatment While Still Working
If a person cannot leave work to explore treatment, there are still options available to them. Evening and professional programs are designed for people fighting substance use or a mental health challenge while holding a job. These programs usually occur at night or after work to allow people to attend without it interfering with their work hours.
Warner Park Recovery Center has recently implemented an evening program designed to give treatment access to professionals who may otherwise not have availability during the daytime. This program is available for people dealing with a substance use issue or mental health disorder.
The program offers three group meetings per week that can be attended virtually through our TeleMed options. Although many will take advantage of the virtual support, we suggest that each client participates in in-person meetings at least once per week. In-person sessions often encourage higher levels of participation which is beneficial to long-term sobriety. Outside of group meetings, clients in the evening program will meet with an on-staff therapist once or twice a week, depending on the needs of the individual.
For people who may be battling a severe substance use issue, outpatient treatment may not be enough. It is essential to realize the importance of self-care and personal health. If a job is unwilling to allow you to take time to enter an inpatient program, it may be time to move on. At Warner Park, we supply clients with a career counselor and resume building services to help them find the best job available after treatment has ended.
Let Us Help You With Addiction Treatment
At Warner Park Recovery, we’re here to help individuals and families by providing exceptional addiction treatment options. We’re a dual diagnosis (mental health combined with substance abuse treatment) program that offers partial day, intensive outpatient, and traditional outpatient levels of care. We regularly treat patients from the Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Topanga Canyon, The Valley, and Thousand Oaks areas. If you are looking for help with addiction treatment, please give us a call to learn more about our professional services!