Employers: Detecting an Addict in Your Organization

By US Daily Review Staff.

June 2012 marks the fourth annual National Employee Wellness Month, an annual initiative that helps business leaders learn how companies have developed successful strategies around prevention and health. It also showcases how the workplace can help improve employee health and productivity.  Addiction, particularly prescription drug abuse, is a growing problem among adults and adolescents. In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 12 million people used prescription painkillers non-medically in 2010. It’s important for employers to know the warning signs of both prescription and illegal drug abuse.

“Supervisors or human resource representatives need to take an objective stance when approaching an employee who may be struggling with addiction,” said Kim Dennis MD, medical director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. “They can mention specific worrisome behaviors that they have observed and relay that they would like to discuss what might be going on. It’s important to link the signs and symptoms to job performance when identifying addiction in the workplace.”

Dr. Dennis further recommends referring the individual to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and having counseling or treatment resources available at the time the initial approach is made in person. Because Timberline Knolls is a residential treatment center, it works with many EAPs throughout the country and provides treatment to women who need a higher level of care for their addiction or other disorders.

“These talks go best when you go in with a spirit of concern, care and service,” adds Dr. Dennis. “If there’s anger or resentment about an employee’s actions or failures, it’s not the best time to confront the individual.”

Common warning signs of addiction in the workplace include:

  • Change in performance
  • Absenteeism
  • New onset of tardiness
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Lying
  • Change in appearance (weight gain or loss, change in grooming habits)
  • Isolation
  • Smelling of alcohol
  • Withdrawal tremors
  • Nodding off
  • Being revved up
  • Blood shot eyes/dilated pupils or constricted pupils

“Life-long recovery from addiction is really possible with the appropriate treatment and proper doses of support,” said Dr. Dennis.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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