Is Your Business Doing Enough to Combat Employee Addiction?

A company needs to address addiction at work.

Addressing Substance Abuse helps ensure employee health and productivity. Learn the negative impacts and how to take action to navigate addiction in the workplace.

Author: Chantal Lapeyre

April 22, 2024

Is your organization doing enough to address substance abuse in our workforce? Considering the economic cost of substance abuse disorders in the US is approximately $3.73 trillion annually (including nearly $207 billion in productivity lost costs), it is a question every business should ask itself.

As an employer, it’s crucial to address addiction in the workplace to ensure a healthy and productive workforce. Read on to learn how to navigate addiction in the workplace and support your employees to overcome addiction.

The Impact of Addiction

Around 13.5 million employed adults in the United States currently suffer from substance use disorders. The chances are high that there are individuals in your organization who suffer and are possibly putting off treatment.

Unrecognized and untreated addiction will end up having negative effects on the health and safety of employees and the success of your company. Let’s explore the four main negative impacts businesses suffer from addiction.

#1: Less effective employees
Employees struggling with addiction are less likely to perform their duties effectively because of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral impairment. Over time, this can significantly reduce their productivity and ultimately affect the profitability of the company.

#2: Increased accidents and injuries
Workplace addiction can increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries. Reaction time, judgment, and physical coordination are all at risk of becoming compromised, raising the chances of an accident. These risks are particularly concerning in industries where safety is paramount, such as construction, manufacturing, and transportation. This can lead to legal issues and further harm a company’s reputation.

#3: An uncaring work environment
Workplace culture has a large effect on employee satisfaction levels. A culture that tolerates or ignores substance abuse can create an environment that accepts addiction. It’s crucial to know your company culture is not potentially encouraging further substance use and hindering efforts to maintain a healthy and productive workplace. Moreover, witnessing colleagues struggle with addiction without appropriate support or intervention can demoralize employees, decrease job satisfaction, and increase turnover rates.

#4: Financial Implications
Addiction costs American businesses and organizations an average of $81 billion in lost profits every year. Companies become burdened with healthcare and absenteeism costs due to the interconnected effects of addiction. Those battling addictions tend to miss work and arrive late more frequently due to related health issues and emergencies.

Moreover, they may suffer from the after-effects of substance use while at work, leading to a condition known as presenteeism. This means that although employees are physically present at work, they are not able to function to the best of their abilities due to personal issues, which can result in increased healthcare and workers’ compensation claims.

Employees with untreated addictions are also less likely to remain with an employer, resulting in higher turnover rates. Consequently, this can cause an increase in training costs for new hires and decreased morale among the remaining staff.

Taking Action to Address Addiction

Business leaders and employers are on the frontline of addressing this issue and can play a huge role. An analysis by the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that employer-initiated treatment is more successful than treatment initiated by friends or family members.

A proactive approach starts by focusing on providing the right support and professional guidance. Employers must set a foundation by promoting education and awareness. It’s crucial to base any action taken on an educated understanding of addiction or guided by those who understand the complexities of addiction.

Here are three steps to effectively address addiction in your workplace:

  1. Review your current drug-free workplace policy to ensure everything is up-to-date and aligns with best practices. Clarify the terms and procedures within the policy, making sure they are straightforward and communicated effectively to all employees.

  2. Implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide employees with counseling and support. If your organization already has an EAP in place, review its effectiveness and promote it regularly to ensure it’s accessible to everyone. Here’s a toolkit that can provide guidance.

  3. Referring employees to the appropriate resources like a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). If an employer suspects a problem, developing a clear referral program should make it easy for them to help employees get the professional assistance needed.

Take action to address addiction at work.

Substance abuse is a complex and ongoing issue; therefore, employers should be prepared to support an employee’s journey through their recovery and reintegration into the workplace. This can involve implementing Return-to-Work policies, monitoring employee progress, and providing follow-up support to ensure their well-being.

Ultimately, the goal is to encourage a more open dialogue by cultivating a supportive, healthy workplace for your employees. By taking these steps, you can help your employees overcome challenges and improve their overall health and well-being.

ASAPcheck has Resources to Help

ASAPcheck is glad to offer help to employers in navigating the complexities of maintaining a drug-free workplace. Here’s how:

  • We provide support to ensure your supervisors are up-to-date on reasonable suspicion training.

  • We help you stay current with changing state laws and DOT updates, such as adding oral fluid to your testing program.

  • We offer continuous review and updating of your drug, alcohol, and background policies to address state law changes, ensuring a safer and more compliant workplace.

For more information or assistance with any of the above, please contact ASAPcheck at

If you think someone around you might be struggling with substance abuse, please refer them to SAMHSA’s National Helpline.