The disease of addiction is unique compared to most other diseases. It’s neither entirely psychological nor entirely physical, but rather a combination of the two. With the disease of addiction attack an individual’s mind and body, it follows that the effects of addiction would be diverse and profound. In terms of the physical and health effects, addicts experience a severe weakening of the immune system, damage to vital organs and bodily systems, and commonly malnourishment. However, in many cases it’s the mental and emotional effects that are the most severe as they can result in the behavioral changes that result from living in the throes of active addiction.
People from all walks of life have fallen prey to alcoholism and drug addiction. It’s an indiscriminate disease, affecting men and women of all ages, religions, regions, sexual orientations, political affiliations, and so on. Worst of all, as individuals develop a substance abuse problem while trying to fulfill their various obligations, they often begin to suffer from poor performance.
Whether it’s at home with familial obligations, at work, in school, or elsewhere, those who develop addictions are continue functioning at an optimal level. The implications for this are arguably most severe when it comes to alcoholics and addicts trying to maintain employment. And this can put employers in a difficult position when they discover that an employee is suffering from a substance abuse problem.
Trying to Be a Functioning Alcoholic or Drug Addict
Addiction isn’t a disease that develops overnight. After becoming enticed by the prospect of recreational intoxication, an individual will escalate his or her substance abuse. However, it begins taking a larger and larger amount of his or her substance of choice in order to achieve the same effects. In a relatively short amount of time, the substance abuser is abusing alcohol or drugs in high amounts on a daily basis, resulting in withdrawal symptoms after only several hours with one’s substance of choice. While the health implications of this level of substance abuse are great, this also makes it incredibly difficult for substance abusers to maintain their performance at home, work, or school.
For those substance abusers who are employed, it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain a developing addiction while maintaining high performance at work. Most individuals will try to be a high-functioning addict, which refers to an addict whose performance in other areas of life remains unaffected. In effect, the high-functioning addict is actually a myth. Eventually, an individual’s addiction will begin to affect all the other aspects of his or her life, including work.
Whether it’s because of attending work while being ill from the effects of substance abuse or attending work while actually under the influence, the effects of alcohol or drugs cause stunted cognitive ability, poor decision-making skills, even confusion, and moodiness, making it almost impossible to perform one’s duties at work. However, it’s about much more than lost productivity. In most industries this can risk not only the addict’s own safety, but the safety of his or her coworkers. As such, addicted employees can be a major liability and affect the workplace as much as it affects families.
Are There Drawbacks to Terminating Addicted Employees?
When an employee is found to have a substance abuse problem — either due to drug screening or because of a workplace incident — it might be tempting to simply terminate the individual immediately; however, there’s another option. Instead of simply firing an employee who is struggling with a substance abuse problem, the alternative would be to find that employee a recovery program at an alcohol or drug addiction rehab facility. In determining which would be the best course of action, it would be helpful to consider the possible drawbacks of simply terminating an addicted employee.
One con to replacing a current employee involves the finding and training of the new employee. Depending on the industry or position, finding qualified candidates could involve utilizing expensive or time-consuming resources, including interviewing, medical exams, drug screens, training materials, and so on. Moreover, training is another potentially expensive and time-consuming process that requires an employer to pay both the new employee as well as his or her trainer. And until the employee is experienced, his or her inexperience could also be a liability, making the individual susceptible to injury on the job.
Alternately, other employees may have to switch duties in order to compensate for the loss, which would requiring retraining in order to learn new duties. If another employee isn’t hired in the terminated employee’s place, this could involve paying overtime to other employees picking up the individual’s hours. It’s also possible that the terminated employee would be entitled to severance pay.
Finding Treatment for an Employee Suffering from Addiction
Instead of firing an employee suffering from addiction, an employer might consider finding the employee an addiction treatment program. Depending on the length of the program — some of which are one to two months — the employee might finish treatment and return to work in less time than it would take to both find and train his or her replacement. Additionally, it’s almost a certainty that an addicted employee who was offered treatment would emerge from the program with a much stronger loyalty to his or her company and a greater appreciation for the employer. He or she will larger work especially hard upon his or her return to make up for time lost or to overcome the reputation for addiction.
While deciding whether to terminate an addicted employee or find him or her treatment involves a number of considerations, perhaps the most important might be to consider how well the individual worked while not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If he or she is an industry-leading expert in his or her field or an exceptionally efficient worker, it might be beneficial to help him or her rehabilitate rather than firing the individual and hiring someone else who would likely be inferior in the position. In effect, one must balance the moral implications and business perspective when deciding whether to find treatment for an addicted employee. The right thing to do and the best thing to do may not always be one and the same.
Find the Right Rehab at Drug Treatment Center Finder
Addiction is a disease that affects about 10 percent of the US population over the age of 12. Unfortunately, the majority of addicts aren’t receiving the treatment they need to overcome chemical dependency. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about addiction treatment, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here to help. For a free consultation and assessment, call us at 1-855-619-8070 today. Our team of recovery specialists are available to help anyone in need from the right program to achieve long-lasting sobriety.