For an employer with a workplace drug policy in place, being well-informed about drugs and drug addiction is essential. The same goes for the HR officers and the managers tasked with actually implementing that policy. They need to be familiar with the different illicit substances that employees may have access to, their effects, and most importantly, the signs of drug addiction.
Here are some useful drug addiction facts that employers and HR officers should know.
Signs of drug addiction
An employee who is hooked on drugs is very likely to suffer from poor work performance. Low productivity, loss of focus, frequent absences and tardiness are common among drug-addicted workers, and this fact alone can already cost employers a lot of money.
That employee’s personal hygiene also takes a dive. Drug addicts tend to show up for work looking rather unkempt, unshaven, inappropriately dressed and with bloodshot eyes. Also worth monitoring is their behaviour, as they often manifest mood changes, irritability and excessive chattiness in some cases. The drugs they take also make them uncooperative, argumentative and accusative, and their personal relationships often suffer because of these. In some cases, they become aggressive or violent, particularly when their drug of choice is a stimulant like cocaine or ice.
Adverse effects of drug addiction on a person’s health
It goes without saying that drug addiction takes a major toll on one’s health. While different drugs have different effects, they all cause damage to the human one way or another. Here are some major negative effects of drug addiction on one’s health:
- Cardio-vascular problems
- Renal problems
- Liver issues
- Heightened anxiety or panic attacks
- Memory or attention loss
- Severe depression
- Significant weight loss
- Sexual problems (including impotence)
- Dental damage
- HIV (through sharing of needles among heroin users)
Dealing with drug addiction in the workplace
Every workplace would be better off by making an effort towards drug policy development. This policy should include a drug testing program, as it is the only way to objectively learn if an employee is a drug addict. The signs of drug addiction listed above might help, but always keep in mind that they could still be signs of problems other than drug addiction.
Dealing with drug addiction in the workplace will take some patience and finesse, especially when the employee in question has not really endangered anyone at work—yet. HR officers and office managers have to tread lightly because it could lead to certain accusations and subsequent complaints that the business does not really need.
If you suspect an employee to be a drug addict, don’t go confronting that employee on the spot with your suspicions. You need to observe the employee first, and take notes. Keep a record of that employee’s absences and tardiness, inability to meet deadlines and incidences of low productivity. If that employee gets involved in incidents like intense arguments with co-workers or anything similarly uncomfortable, write it down as well. If possible, keep your observations objective, and there should be no references to any suspicion of drug addiction in your notes.
When you feel that you’ve seen enough, talk to the employee about your notes, will come in handy as a reference point. It would be good if your talk leads to a confession about a drug problem. However, if the employee denies everything, it would then be wise to recommend a drug test, and this is where the established workplace drug policy comes into play.