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Drug, alcohol abuse & workplace violence

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that approximately 68 % of illegal drug users are employed full or part time.

One out of every 10 people in the United States has an alcohol problem. There’s a very good chance that someone where you work abuses alcohol or other drugs. Workers who have a substance abuse problem are far less productive, miss more days of work, and are more likely to injure themselves, someone else, and file more workers compensation claims

The employer cannot absorb all of the costs, and therefore pass the cost on to all employees in the form of higher insurance premiums and reduced salaries & benefit packages. There are hidden costs too: stress to others who fill in for the absent workers, damage to equipment, drains on supervisory time, and reduction in high quality patient care.

Do not ignore the problem by lying or covering up, doing his or her job, or lending money.

Signs of abuse can include:

  • Frequent tardiness or absenteeism
  • Abrupt changes in mood or attitude
  • Frequent complaints of not feeling well
  • Poor relationships with co-workers
  • Poor concentration & errors in judgment
  • Unusual flare-ups of temper
  • Deterioration of appearance & hygiene
  • Repeated or unusual accidents
  • Deteriorating job performance
  • Borrowing money from co-workers

"Employee Assistance Program" Is Good Business

  • Treatment can be successful in helping people with most serious addiction problems.
  • Recovering addicts are less likely to be involved in crime, and more likely to be employed.
  • Helping people stay off drugs lightens everyone’s tax burden by reducing expenses for drug-related law enforcement and health services.
  • Replacing employees is very expensive. Some estimates are more than $7,000 for a salaried worker, more than $10,000 for a mid-level manager, and $40,000 for a senior manager. (Adapted from "How Drug Abuse Takes Profit Out of Business", published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse.) Take A Stand !
  • Examine your own alcohol & drug consumption habits. Are they hurting you, your family, or your co-workers ? If you have a problem, get help.
  • Familiarize yourself with the University Policy against substance abuse.
  • Assure that management makes employees aware of the Employee Assistance Program.
  • Work with the UMASS Police Dept. to report drug use, or drug dealing at the Medical Center.

Workplace Violence 
Violence in the workplace takes many forms, from raised voices & profanity or sexual harassment, to larceny, robbery or assault & battery. The numbers of physical Assault & Battery are rising, and in spite of media hype, the attacker is not usually a disgruntled employee. To assess your workplace’s vulnerability to violence, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your workplace secure ? Do you have easy-to-use phones with the UMASS Police Emergency number displayed ?
  • Does Human Resources examine criminal & educational records carefully ? Is the UMASS Police Dept. notified & asked to stand by during termination procedures ?
  • Could you recognize potentially violent employees ? Substance abuse may make a normal employee violent. Signs of stress that could erupt into violence include: depression, frequent absences, talking in a louder-than-normal voice, being startles easily, increased irritability & impatience, and concentration & memory problems.
  • Are you encouraged to report unusual behavior ? Is there a written policy for workplace violence ? Make sure you know to whom you should report unusual behavior.
  • Do you work in a supportive environment ? Is there a culture of mutual respect.