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3 Ways Addiction May Be Impacting Your Job

When addicted people go to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are putting themselves and their colleagues in danger. This especially holds true in industries like healthcare that cater to vulnerable populations, where one slip-up could mean a person's death. But it is also the case in many other occupations that require close attention to detail, like driving or operating machinery. Regardless of the industry, these are three ways addiction could have a negative impact on a person’s job.

Substance Abusers Are More Likely to Make Tiny Mistakes with Big Consequences

Many vocations require close attention to detail. Nurses, for example, are often required to sort pills for patients. They may be caring for dozens of patients at a time, each with their own special medication set that needs to be prepared and put aside from the others. But too often patients are given the wrong medications, possibly leading to health complications, because the nurses they entrusted with their lives were impaired and in no condition to undertake the responsibility.

With its long hours and high rates of burnout, instances of nursing home staff abusing drugs as a coping mechanism are not uncommon. When a nurse is abusing drugs, he or she is more likely to give the wrong medications to a patient, administer medication incorrectly, or give incorrect dosages. This mistake could spark drug dependency issues in the patient themselves, as well as many other complications.

Addiction Impairs A Person’s Driving Abilities

There are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers, 2.6 million Uber drivers, 700,000 Lyft drivers, and 207,920 taxi drivers working in the United States. With the 150 million workers also traveling to work by car every day, it is safe to say automobile travel is a vital part of the American economy.

It is illegal to drink and drive, but not enough attention has been paid to how illicit drugs interact with driving. Too often drivers turn to drugs to help them manage the long hours and late nights. This is especially true for rideshare drivers, who often work another full-time job on top of driving in the evening.

Cocaine and amphetamines may help an Uber driver “stay awake,” but the long term side effects of these drugs include agitation and hallucinations. This takes drivers' attention away from the road, worsens their ability to respond to traffic, and puts their passengers in peril. Too often this is the reason the public learns about another tragic Uber accident in the news.

Addiction Could Lead to a Work-Related Accident

According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 10% to 20% of work-related fatalities test positive for drugs or alcohol. It is estimated that over 40% of industrial workplace fatalities are caused by substance abusers. This demonstrates a clear picture: substance abuse is very likely to lead to work injuries.

Anybody employed alongside someone that abuses drugs, especially if the work is in a potentially dangerous setting, should take precautions to ensure the addicted person cannot put others in harm's way. Addiction is an unfortunate disorder, and while it may be tempting to brush a coworker’s behavior under the rug, it is the responsibility of everyone to keep a workplace safe.

In many ways, addiction impacts the working world every day. And with addiction continuing to rise, this problem is not likely to go away any time soon. However, in the meantime, people who suffer from substance abuse disorders should be aware of how their illness impacts their work and do what they can to alleviate these issues.

How Employers Can Help Workers Who Are Suffering From Addiction

In addition to educating workers about substance abuse, many employers have found success by providing resources to staff members, such as offering group counseling, therapy, and outpatient treatment options.