As addiction, especially of prescription drugs, remains a rising problem among adults and adolescents, it is important for employers to identify the warning signs of both prescription and illegal drug abuse, states Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, private residential treatment center for women and adolescent girls in Chicago.
Timberline Knolls’ recommendation comes during June’s National Employee Wellness, an annual initiative helping employers develop successful health and wellness strategies, and soon after a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that finds more than 12 million people used prescription painkillers nonmedically in 2010.
"Supervisors or human resource representatives need to take an objective stance when approaching an employee who may be struggling with addiction," says Kim Dennis M.D., medical director at Timberline Knolls. "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."
Dennis suggests that employers offer employee assistance programs and provide counseling or treatment resources when the problem is first addressed.
"These talks go best when you go in with a spirit of concern, care and service," Dennis says. "If there's anger or resentment about an employee's actions or failures, it's not the best time to confront the individual."
Among common warning signs of addiction in the workplace are change in performance, absenteeism, increased tardiness, inconsistent performance, lying, change in appearance, isolation, withdrawal tremors, sleepiness, and blood-shot eyes or dilated pupils, Timberline Knolls states.
“Life-long recovery from addiction is really possible with the appropriate treatment and proper doses of support," Dennis says.