How to Manage Alcohol and Drug Misuse at Work


Employers always look for talented employees whom they can trust to do their assigned work duties without personal issues interrupting the process. Alcohol or drugs in the workplace can negatively affect personal health, employee performance, and workplace safety. This is the reason why you must establish and maintain a drug-free workplace by developing a supportive policy and programs that can improve by assisting to attract the right type of employees.

A drug-free environment can improve employee productivity, reduce workers’ compensation premiums, lower absenteeism, and many more. Employers need to make sure that they have a drug-free policy. You should note that preventing alcohol or drug use at the workplace should start with employee training courses. In this way, employees can understand the consequences of using alcohol or drugs at their workplace. This article discusses how to manage alcohol and drug misuse at work.

Key Recommendations for Employers

There are some main areas that employers need to consider when they decide to plan their approach to the prevention and management of alcohol and drug issues. One of them is to develop a clear and consistent policy and process.

Your alcohol or drug policy needs to set out clear expectations of employees’ behavior and the consequences of failing to meet these expectations. You should also clarify the process for workers by disclosing their problems and for individuals raising concerns about a colleague. Besides, you need to outline employee assistance programs that are in place or any other sources of support.

You should also build a supportive culture. This means you have to take a proper approach to employee well-being and health. This includes support related to alcohol or drug misuse and protecting both your company and employees.

It’s also a good idea to have a supportive culture that regularly communicates the support you provide to employees with alcohol or drug problems. Ideally, you want to deal with these problems before they can become disciplinary issues. You should also remind your workers of the alcohol or drug misuse policy before company social events that may involve people drinking alcoholic drinks.

Lastly, make sure that your drug-free workplace policies align with your business culture. Alcohol and drug workplace policies must focus on corporate behavior and culture. Therefore, you should cover expectations involving things, such as working hours, entertaining clients, and social events.

Also, you should make sure that you send a consistent message, especially when it comes to your business environment as well as any legal obligation involving any safety services you offer. If your business has several working sites across the country, make sure that your alcohol and drug policies are created with advice from experts in these locations.

Enforcing your Drug-Free Workplace Program

If you are exploring the idea of creating and implementing a drug-free workplace program, you need to figure out how you are going to enforce it. There are many factors you should consider to ensure that your workers are not using or taking alcohol or drugs at your workplace.

Firstly, you need to draft a written drug-free workplace policy. Having a written drug-free workplace policy regarding alcohol and drugs is important to get started. This is because the document can list your plan that needs to align with labor laws as well as avoid discriminatory practices. Remember that with a documented drug-free policy, it can be easier for your workers to respond to any call of discriminatory enforcement.

You should also train your line managers on the right ways of dealing with the suspicion or disclosure of an alcohol or drug problem. Line managers can also work with other colleagues and professionals to create a supportive culture. This allows the line managers to feel free to discuss these sensitive issues. Another good thing is that you can also learn how to manage alcohol or drug misuse at work.

While most businesses usually have a specific alcohol or drug policy, few of them train their line managers about their alcohol and drug policies and procedures. Take note that companies need to offer one-off training or regular refresher training. Some studies have indicated that investing in line manager training when it comes to effectiveness in helping prevent alcohol or drug misuse is quite important.

You should also train your employees. You can increase employee awareness by including explanations of the alcohol and drug misuse policy in your workplace. It’s a good idea to include this in your induction for new employees.

Make sure that you should also brief your supervisors and managers so they are clear about the best way to recognize the signs of alcohol or drug misuse. They can also understand the company’s rules on alcohol or drug misuse, what they can do when they suspect a worker is misusing alcohol or drugs, and what to do if a worker informs them about an alcohol or drug problem.

An employee with alcohol or drug issues can sometimes ask for help at work when they know that their problems can be handled confidentially and discreetly. But you should also consider your legal position when you get the information or evidence that may suggest that a worker’s drug or alcohol misuse involves breaking the law at work.

Alcohol or drug dependence is considered to be a medical problem. Therefore, an individual who misuses alcohol or drugs should have the same rights to support and confidentiality as they would when they suffered from any other psychological or medical condition. You can encourage such employees to seek help from a specialist alcohol or drug agency or their doctor or refer them to your company’s occupational health service.

You can also allow your employee time off so that they can get expert help. Quite often, the expenses for recruiting and training a new worker can be more than the expenses of time off. Also, you can think about whether or not alcohol and drug abuse in your workplace can be considered to be a health concern or disciplinary issue. If you decide to dismiss your employee due to alcohol or drug misuse without attempting to assist them, an employment tribunal can find that you illegally dismissed them. But if they have a safety-sensitive job, you may have to temporarily assign them to another job.


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