Addiction Support and Resources

Are you or someone you know dealing with a gambling problem or addiction?

Understanding the Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is usually not about the desire to win money ignorance of the odds of a win or a drive to self-destruction. It is usually about emotional issues like anxiety, depression, loneliness or boredom, financial debt, relationship issues and the lack of coping skills.

Gambling leads to financial hardship, broken relationships, mental health problems and other addictions. Women who gamble often say that along with the loss of money, a loss of time and sense of self are the greatest associated risks.

If you are unable to stop gambling despite its negative consequences, you may seek assistance at:

Research has shown that the issues of gambling and addiction have affected societies around the world, the Credit Union movement is no exception. We recognise that the financial and social struggles of Board members, officers, staff and members within our movement are not sufficiently addressed. Therefore, as a responsible leader the CFF has decided to take action. We want to sensitize our cooperative brothers and sisters and provide the necessary support to those who are attempting to overcome the struggle daily.

“Decades of neglect and under investment in addressing people’s mental health needs have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic…in a call for ambitious commitments from countries in the way they treat psychological illness, amide a potential spike in…drug abuse.”                                          United Nations, Thursday, May 14, 2020

ADDICTION IN THE WORKPLACE 

 

As many persons may be headed back to the workplace due to the lifting of particular bans/restrictions, there may be many persons whom we work with, who have been facing many stressful situations prior to and even more during the COVID-19 pandemic period.  Some have resorted to drugs as a solution - an escape.

Many of us may think of addiction or drug abuse as in the use of substances such as cocaine, marijuana and heroin.  In many countries these are the most popular.

However, in many parts of the world,  New York for example, one of the most often used drugs is oxytocin.  Oxytocin is a prescription drug which many white-collar employees end up in the emergency rooms due to overdoses.  Drugs such as these are not difficult to source since no ‘dealer’ is needed; but instead, doctor -shops which may be readily available.

Nonetheless, drug use is a serious problem regardless of location or industry.

The questions at this juncture are that while in these above mentioned cases a drug dealer may not be accessible what then?:

  • How can drug use and addiction be identified?
  • How can we assist co-workers who may be struggling?
  • What about prevention?
  • What can companies/organizations put in place as policy to curb or eliminate addiction problems?

Identifying substance abuse/addiction

One of the silent epidemics in the workplace is addiction. Employees may hide their dependency on substances consequently resulting to a state of weakness and destruction.  Treatment is also often resisted until it may be too late.

Studies by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), although an estimated 20.7 million people needed substance abuse treatment in 2017, only around 4 million of them received that treatment.

However, all hope cannot be counted as lost.  The desire to assist our relatives, friends, employees should persist due not solely to the compassion which we should demonstrate; however, consideration for also the financial costs which families and companies can face due to for instance, loss of productivity and unplanned absences, if addiction is not managed.

Here are a few signs which may indicate that someone you know may be in need of urgent help, due to an addition.

  • Unexplained absences: Employees may be missing from their desks for long periods of time or gone from the worksite without reason, such as running an errand or going to lunch.
  • Chronic lateness: Chronic lateness is another sign of a possible drug or alcohol problem.
  • Mood swings: You probably know your employees well. Someone who is calm most of the time may suddenly become angry or experience unpredictable mood swings. Changes in behavior that can’t be accounted for from illness or personal stress may be due to substance abuse.
  • Frequent illness: Sniffling nose, red, runny eyes — it may not be from allergies. Someone who complains of frequent migraine headaches or colds may actually be covering up drug withdrawal. Other frequent illnesses may point to a compromised immune system, which is characteristic of many long-term substance abusers.
  • Poor appearance: Changes in hygiene or professional appearance should also be noted. Poor personal hygiene is often a sign of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Long sleeves in hot weather: Wearing long sleeves or jackets all the time may hide needle tracks on the arms of some users. If it’s uncharacteristic of the employee, or their job doesn’t call for business attire at all times, it may be a sign of a problem when taken into consideration with other signs.
  • Mysterious accidents: Employees may show up at work with strange cuts, bruises, scrapes, marks on their arms or other signs of accidents or drug use.
  • Paranoia or over-reacting: Managers may notice that an employee over-reacts to every little thing. A simple typo in a document that you ask someone to fix results in a fit of rage or tears. Fights erupt between coworkers over accusations of stealing staplers. If it’s unjustified and uncharacteristic, it’s time to take note of the person’s symptoms and see what’s troubling them. It could be family stress, illness or on-the-job substance abuse.

Results of drug and alcohol use in the workplace

Apart from signs and symptoms which may be displayed from addictions, one of the major reasons which urgent intervention is necessary in such circumstances are the serious consequences which drug and alcohol abuse/gambling addiction can result in.

  1. Higher absenteeism rates: Feeling hung over or too jittery or sleepy to go to work can make one call in sick more often than your non-using coworkers. This reduces one’s productivity and increases the workload of other employees
  2. Poor job performance: There will be tremendous difficulty in focusing on one’s tasks. In addition, addictions usually cause an individual to give greater attention to accessing the next high or next hit which will result to subpar work. The longer one continues using drugs at work, the more they are at risk of being reprimanded or losing their job.
  3. Injuries or death: Workers who regularly use heavy machinery and equipment are always at risk of accidents on the job, but operating this equipment while drunk or high compounds your risk of hurting yourself and others. Driving under the influence isn’t just illegal — it’s also dangerous, so if you drive for a living or use your vehicle as part of your job, it’s a dangerous situation. Other risks include using equipment like power saws, drills, and other tools, as well as working with factory tools in manufacturing settings. It takes just a momentary lapse in judgment to make a mistake that can seriously injure yourself, a co-worker or even an innocent bystander. Worse still, depending on the situation, someone can die.
  4. Poor relationships: Irritability, uneven behavior, inappropriate behavior as a result of drug use and abuse, with many other symptoms can lead to arguments with coworkers, managers and even customers.
  5. Higher incidences of theft: Many people steal from their employers to pay for their habit. Cash gets stolen, but credit cards are also abused and big office supplies like toner cartridges and cell phones are stolen and sold to pay for drugs and alcohol.
  6. Lowered morale: Coworkers sense when someone isn’t pulling their fair share of the work. The sense that you’re slacking off while they have to cover for you can build resentment and cause overall morale to drop.

 

HOW CAN ONE HELP?

The following rules generally apply:

  • Being proactive about addiction
  • Have clear policies in place at workplaces
  • Know the warning signs of substance abuse and addiction 

Specifically, for the workplace:

If you suspect a fellow coworker of substance abuse:

  1. Employers need to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of substance abuse in the workplace. Only approximately 20% of people receive treatment, despite their need for medically supervised assistance. The cost of employee drug treatment is very economical when compared to the potential loss of productivity and revenue.
  2. Document any evidence to support your suspicions. Be sure to note only observable workplace behaviors.
  3. Ask your manager or the human resources manager to meet privately.
  4. Express your concerns to the HR manager or your line manager, and show them the list of evidence you’ve collected.

Keep your thoughts to yourself and let the HR director or your manager handle it from there. Both confrontation with the other person and gossip only hurt the substance abuser and may keep them from seeking help.

A common course of action which can assist workplaces with drug/substance abuse in the workplace is the implementation of company policies.

  • Drug use policies

Every company should establish an explicit policy which forbid employees from engaging in illegal activities in the workplace.  This included the use of illegal drugs, the use of alcohol, working while under the influence of substances  - be it prescription of any item which would impair judgement or one’s ability to fulfill work tasks.

What does a workplace drug and alcohol policy entail?

  1. Reasons why a company policy has been established
  2. Expectations from employees
  3. The consequences of violating policies
  4. Conditions under which employees may be tested for drug use
  5. Reasons for those tests
  6. Policies pertaining to drug and alcohol use, abuse, identification and treatment