Drugs and Alcohol at Work

Fans of the Mad Men series recall the depiction of the 1960s smoke-filled workplace as one where booze in the desk drawer was a given. Full on liquor cabinets were a staple in many office settings, and triple martini lunches were the norm. In the 80s, cocaine was part and parcel of the toolbox for high producing executives, as a quick sniff of the white stuff was just part of the dessert at lunchtime. People may assume that all that bad behavior was reined in long ago, with zero tolerance policies and drug testing becoming a workplace norm in recent years.

Not so, according to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), which studied the use of drugs and alcohol at work. Apparently, 24% of workers surveyed admit having used alcohol during the workday at least once in the past year, and breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in 16% of patients injured at work. In addition, marijuana and cocaine were the most commonly used drugs by employees.

It appears that American workplaces are still rife with substance use. The use of drugs and alcohol at work is still a substantial problem, impacting productivity, employee health, and workplace safety. In fact, it has to be an ongoing issue since, according to the NCADD, 70% of the nearly 15 million adults in the U.S. who use the illegal drugs are, indeed, employed.

In Which Industries Are Employees Using Drugs and Alcohol at Work?

When discussing which careers might contribute most to on the job substance abuse it might be assumed that high stress executive positions might top the list, but others, while represented in the data, surpass these careers for substance abuse. Also notable is the fact that careers such as first responders, emergency personnel, police, and fire are associated with high job stress and subsequent high rates of substance abuse, zero tolerance policies and random testing act as a deterrent for these individuals to use a substance while working.

On the contrary, according to the data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the following industries have the highest levels of substance abuse among those employed full-time:

Illicit drug use by individuals employed full-time

  • Accommodations (hotel) and food services (19%)
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation (13.7%)
  • Management of companies and enterprises (12.1%)
  • Information (11.7%)
  • Construction (11.6%)
  • Service industries, excluding public administration (11.2%)
  • Real estate (10.9%)
  • Retail (10.3%)
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services (9%)

Alcohol use by individuals employed full-time

  • Mining (17.5%)
  • Construction (16.5%)
  • Accommodations and food industry (11.8%)
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation (11.5%)
  • Utilities (10.3%)
  • Wholesale trade (10.2%)
  • Management of companies and enterprises (9.9%)
  • Manufacturing (9.7%)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (9.4%)

Overall, employees in the accommodations and food industries had the highest rates of substance abuse, at nearly 17%.

What are the Signs of Workplace Substance Abuse?

When a coworker is struggling with a drug or alcohol use disorder there will usually be some signs of it on the job. It is very difficult to hide the telltale signs of a drug or alcohol problem from people you work alongside day in and day out. Eventually, certain red flags will be exhibited. These may include:

  • Declining job performance
  • Missing important meetings
  • Being consistently late to work
  • Becoming less social at work
  • Hand tremors
  • Decline in appearance and hygiene
  • Avoiding work related functions
  • Excessive absenteeism
  • Discussing financial problems at work
  • Facial bloating
  • Rapid weight gain or loss
  • Mood swings or moodiness
  • Manic spells of hyper-productivity (associated with stimulant abuse)

Coworkers who exhibit a cluster of these signs or symptoms of substance abuse are in need of help. An employee who enters treatment for a behavioral health disorder cannot be terminated for going to rehab and should be encouraged to get the help they need.

Effects of Using Drugs and Alcohol at Work

For the employee, the effects of using drugs and alcohol at work are fairly obvious. At some point, their behaviors that are the result of the substance abuse will lead to their termination from the position. For the company itself, workplace substance abuse can have substantial negative effects.

The impact of drug and alcohol abuse at work includes:

  • Potential injury at work due to decreased motor coordination, alertness, or judgment, leading to expensive worker’s compensation claims and increases in premiums
  • Aggravated assault
  • Sexual harassment, abuse, or assault
  • Distribution or sales of illicit drugs or alcohol at work
  • Reduced productivity
  • Psychological effects of substance abuse impacting coworkers
  • Theft or embezzlement to finance a drug or alcohol habit
  • Reduced morale among staff
  • Cost of having to train a replacement employee if termination results

The cost to the employer and the overall work environment is high when a coworker is engaging in substance abuse either secretly while at work, or arriving to work high, drunk, or hungover.

Treatment for Substance Abuse and Addiction

Employees who are struggling with a substance use disorder need help. Often the human resources department will have an in-house response to employees with a drug or alcohol problem, guiding them toward receiving the treatment they need and/or issuing them leave to go to an inpatient program.

Once in outpatient or inpatient rehab, the individual will receive a comprehensive treatment protocol that includes detoxification, if necessary, individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, addiction education classes, medication assisted treatment, if warranted, and relapse prevention planning. In addition, many rehabs include a 12-step or similar recovery group for additional peer support.

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Golf Drug Rehab is an upscale addiction recovery center located in South Orange County, California. The program assists individuals who have been unable to curb substance use within the workplace and who seek recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. Utilizing the most current evidence-based treatment elements, combined with recreational golf therapy, Golf Drug Rehab blends therapy with outdoor activity for the best treatment outcomes. For more information about the program, please contact Golf Drug Rehab today at [phone_number]

Signs of Painkiller Addiction

By now the story can be recited by heart. You go in for oral surgery or for an orthopedic ACL repair and your physician provides you with a 30-day supply of painkillers, which then results in opioid addiction. This scenario has played out across the nation, resulting in over 200,000 deaths in the last decade.

Addiction may take root innocently, often within a week or two of using the legitimately prescribed painkiller for valid reasons, or by misusing the drug recreationally. Either way once addicted the usual trajectory leads to illicit opiates that eventually replace the painkillers. Heroin costs a fraction of the pills is easily obtainable and offers a more enhanced high that the opioids. The problem is, although heroin has always been a deadly drug, these days heroin is laced with fentanyl, which has led to a spike in deaths in recent years. If the problem is not reined in, there are predictions that the U.S. could lose half a million more lives over the next ten-year period to painkiller addiction.

As the opioid death rates continue to ratchet upward, aggressive steps are being taken to rein in the over-prescribing of the drugs that so many doctors, dentists, and surgeons had been participating in for the last two decades. Rooting out the underhanded practices of receiving spiffs or manufacturer kickbacks for prescribing the drugs, pill mills, opioid-related Medicare fraud, and the untruths presented by the drug makers who had claimed the drugs had a low risk of dependency, have been front and center in the news the past couple of years.

Regardless of current or future efforts to fix the problem, millions of Americans now struggle with opioid addiction. Some may not even be aware yet that they have a problem, and may only come to realize it when they attempt to discontinue using the drugs. For this reason, understanding the signs of painkiller addiction is important to getting treatment as soon as possible, before the addiction becomes deeply engrained. The earlier in the addiction that treatment is obtained, the better the recovery outcome.

How Painkiller Addiction Develops

Increasingly, science is studying brain structures and chemistry to gain a better understanding of how addiction develops. Becoming addicted to a drug or alcohol varies from individual to individual, with some becoming addicted much sooner than others engaging in the exact same behavior. This can be due to physiological differences in body composition or genetic makeup, but regardless, consistent use of a highly addictive substance like painkillers will always lead to addiction or dependency eventually.

Painkillers are the category of drugs called opioids. Opioids are the synthetic, man-made versions of naturally occurring opium that comes from certain types of poppy plants from which morphine and codeine are obtained. Synthetic opioids mimic the effects of natural opiates, and these days the terms are used interchangeably. Painkillers include:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan)
  • Methadone
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)

Synthetic opioids bind to our natural opioid receptors, stimulating them and confusing the brain as it is flooded with dopamine. Over time, the brain ceases to even produce its own dopamine any longer, now dependent on the painkillers to provide it. When the individual attempts to stop taking the drug, the body will, within hours, begin rebelling with highly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. To avoid this pain and discomfort, the individual reverts back to using the drug.

What Are the Signs of Painkiller Addiction?

The signs of painkiller addiction include both behavioral signs and physical signs. The behavioral signs of painkiller addiction might include:

  • Obsessing about the next dose
  • Obsessing about obtaining the drug
  • Lying about the amount of the drug use
  • Begin to avoid activities once enjoyed
  • Isolating behaviors
  • Secretive behaviors
  • Continue to use drugs despite negative consequences

Physical signs of painkiller addiction might include:

  • Can’t stop or control the use of the drug
  • Tolerance increases, necessitating higher and more frequent dosing
  • Powerful drug cravings
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • Sweating
  • Small pupils
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Shallow breathing
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit

What Are the Steps to Detox From Painkiller Addiction?

The detoxification process from painkillers is highly uncomfortable. For this reason, in order to successfully complete detox instead of giving up, it is essential to detox in a supervised environment. The trained detox specialists can anticipate the withdrawal symptoms and be prepared to intervene with medications and other therapeutic support that will mitigate much of the discomfort from the withdrawal symptoms.

The detox timeline for opioids is approximately one week to ten days, depending on certain factors such as the length of history of abusing the painkillers, the general health of the individual, the age of the individual, and whether there is a dual diagnosis (co-existing mental health disorder). Withdrawal symptoms will peak at about 72 hours and then begin to subside as the toxins are expelled from the body and the brain chemistry starts to stabilize.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive yawning
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • Drug cravings

Detox is only the first step in recovery from painkiller addiction. Once detox is completed, the individual enters the treatment phase of recovery, which can last for several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the addiction. This guided recovery process can ultimately result in a renewed sense of joy and hope for the future.

Golf Drug Rehab Provides Detox for Painkiller Addiction

Golf Drug Rehab is an elite executive drug and alcohol treatment center serving Southern California. When the signs of painkiller addiction become clear, it is imperative that the individual begin the detox and rehabilitation process, sooner rather than later. Golf Drug Rehab provides a safe monitored detox program that will guide the individual through the detoxification process with the least amount of discomfort possible. In some cases, offering Suboxone can help support early recovery by slowly weaning the person off opioids by gradually reducing cravings and allowing for a sustained recovery to take root. Golf Drug Rehab has a unique golf recreational therapy angle to its recovery program that helps alleviate boredom, encourages fitness, gets clients outside into fresh air, and fosters peer support. For more information about the program, please contact Golf Drug Rehab today at [phone_number]