In today's hectic society, the workplace becomes a
dominant force in many lives. With the advent of economically trying
times, downsizing, a smaller workforce which is expected "to do more
with less," it comes as no surprise that our work place dominates more
and more of our daily lives.
This is all the more reason why the workplace, like
an extension of our family life, needs to be healthy, drug free...a
safe environment in which to be able to rely upon our talents and to
work towards our individual potential!
Because employers realize that safe and healthy
workforce is imperative to corporate health, they are increasingly
interested in creating drug-free environments but may not be altogether
sure how to begin the task. The following information, developed by the
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), offers clear, concise
information as to how to begin:
As with any other organizational change, an
assessment is the first step. One way to begin is to analyze the cost
of alcohol and other drug abuse, such as health care utilization costs
and losses due to theft, absenteeism, and accidents. Monitoring these
same costs over time can help you assess the impact and success of your
drug-free workplace program.
The risks, costs, and benefits will differ with
every organization. A careful assessment can show which program options
offer clear advantages and are affordable and which ones are not needed
at this time.
Even the smallest organization with minimal
resources can support a drug-free-workplace. For example, even if you
cannot offer insurance coverage for treatment, you can help your
employees and save rehiring and retraining costs by:
- assuring employees continued employment if they successfully seek
treatment on their own for an alcohol or other drug abuse problem;
- offering sick or unpaid leave while they are recovering;
- helping employees find the best local treatment for the cost;
- offering to share the cost of treatment.
A written policy tells everyone the organization's
position on alcohol and other drug abuse and explains what will happen
if the policy is violated. That is the central component of most
Employers often ask if they can "borrow" another
employer's policy and tailor it to their workplace, While this is
certainly possible, it is best to draft a policy that meets your own
organization's specific needs. Many employers find it helpful to
involve supervisors and employees and union representatives in drafting
a policy....In general, employees who contribute to a policy are more
likely to willingly comply with it...
A plan for introducing the drug-free-workplace
program to employees and for informing them about alcohol- and other
drug-related issues will be important to the program's overall success.
A positive approach is needed to let employees know
the program is intended to improve the work environment for everyone.
The message is: "This is OUR problem, and here's how WE can solve
The positive approach supports employees, letting
them know "If you have a problem, we want to give you a chance to get
A negative approach takes a more punitive,
judgmental attitude. The message is: "You'd better watch out or you
might be in trouble. We have our eye on you."
If your organization has managers or supervisors,
they can provide valuable support in introducing and carrying out a
drug-free workplace program. They cannot do it alone, however; they
will need guidance, direction, and support.
Supervisors can play a central role in an effective
drug-free workplace program. More than anyone else in the organization,
they are in a position to recognize changes in an employee's job
However, supervisors are not expected to provide
substance abuse counseling. Neither should they try to diagnose alcohol
or other drug problems. If a supervisor suspects an alcohol,
drug-related, or other problem, particularly as evidenced by poor job
performance or conduct, the employee should be referred for
professional evaluation assistance.
An EAP is one way for an organization to offer help
to employees with personal problems, including problems with alcohol
and other drugs. This component can be a sign of employer support and a
source of improved productivity. Although not every employer will want
or be able to afford an EAP, it is worth considering. Low-cost options
for offering an EAP are available, making the component within reach
even for companies with limited resources.
Some employers believe that a drug-free-workplace
program and drug testing are the same. In fact, drug testing is only
one possible component of a drug-free-workplace program.
Drug testing has its place and can be helpful. It
can also be a source of controversy, anxiety, and concern among
employers and employees. Therefore, it is a big decision. A successful
drug testing program requires careful planning, consistently applied
procedures, strict confidentiality, and provisions for appeal.
The above-mentioned information is a series of
excerpts from a publication of the Center for
Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), entitled Making Your Workplace Drug Free: A Kit for
To obtain this kit and to obtain further information
on this topic call:
The Center for Substance Abuse
Prevention's Workplace Helpline
Hawaii Department of Health
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division
601 Kamokila Blvd. Room 360
Kapolei, Hawai'i, 96707