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Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace

How to Contend with Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace

Drugs and alcohol in the workplace are more common than people realize. For those in recovery and in the throes of addiction, these substance abuse opportunities are tempting and at times irresistible. Whether you have substance abuse issues or not, you may be confronted with opportunities to overindulge in alcohol and use drugs. What exactly is an employee supposed to do?

1. Abstain

This is the easiest thing to say and the hardest thing to do. Many companies host happy hours or have unsanctioned after-work social events. Navigating these situations is not necessarily as simple as asking for ginger ale instead of a cocktail. If your boss offers to buy you a drink or buys the group around, of course, you may feel pressured to go with the flow. You do not want to seem like a stick in the mud or an unsociable person. On the other hand, you are the only one who can look out for yourself 100% of the time. Remember that while social networking is important, your well-being and professional reputation are paramount. If you cannot easily switch out your drink for something non-alcoholic, you are not obligated to drink the beverage in your hand. Chances are no one is paying as much attention to you as you think, and you can easily place your drink back on the bar or table to be cleared without much fuss. When it comes to illicit drugs like cocaine or marijuana, however, you are confronted with a separate set of issues. Whether you say the drug is wasted on you or it is not your thing, both are valid reasons to avoid a group exercise in debauchery without singling yourself out. If you personally are finding it hard to refuse what is being offered, the best recourse is to remove yourself from the situation. With the advent of cell phones, we all have a built-in excuse to leave an event at any moment, if we feel it is necessary.

2. Report the situation

Corporate culture can be a tricky thing, and it is hard to express your concerns without looking like a snitch. That said, you should have a reasonable grasp of your company’s climate and attitudes towards drugs and alcohol in the workplace. If you feel you have been placed in a situation that is an aberration and not in step with the company’s persona, you should feel comfortable going to someone else in the company and expressing your concerns. On the other hand, if you feel drug and alcohol use is ingrained in your company’s culture, you should probably start looking for another job. You can also report your concerns to OSHA, law enforcement, or your local DEA office.

3. Move on

There are plenty of companies that foster drug and alcohol abuse. There are also plenty of companies that will not tolerate or encourage that type of behavior. If you notice you are in an environment that fosters unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol in the workplace, quietly start looking for another job. Most people will not fault you for searching for a better opportunity or increased compensation. In today’s economic climate this may take time, but others who are outside of the situation can be invaluable sources of support.

Related Content:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Workplace Accidents and Drug or Alcohol Abuse