Substance abuse can lead to serious long-term consequences at every workplace. No single solution will work for every place of business; each workplace must identify which combination of policies, practices, benefits and support systems can best meet its needs. Understanding which solutions work for each employer will result in more precise, responsible decisions for their businesses, and more importantly, their employees.
Substance abuse is taken the wrong way by most people. Contrary to popular belief, health care costs are not always higher for substance abusers on payroll. Health care costs of substance abusers’ families are substantially reduced when treatment is continued by the substance abuser. Most employed substance abusers can be treated in the least expensive, least inhibiting treatment settings enabling them to work during treatment without taking any time off. Treatment success is elevated when substance abusers are classified early and have strong social support.
Two group-level social features will moderate employee vulnerability to coworker substance use. The first being cohesiveness and drinking climate. The second is the proportion of jobs involving risk and mobility. Employee substance abuse problems have parallel effects on fellow workers.
Individual factors such as job stress may increase sensitivity to collateral effects. Work group factors such as occupational or social norms that tolerate drinking may enhance the probability of risk. These effects have been overlooked before, but work groups represent job conditions that moderate the impact of exposure.
Sociological theories of workplace substance use and of stress implicate the individual in the context of the group. Some of the workplace factors that contribute to employee substance abuse include job stress, drug availability, workplace culture, social control, and alienation.