Drug Abuse Amidst A Pandemic

In an effort to escape or cope with the everyday stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, many across the country may turn to alcohol, prescription medications, or other drug use. Alcohol and drug testing employees as they return to work cannot only help you prevent liability issues, but you can also offer support to your employees that may be trying to find alternative ways to deal with stress. 

The Problem

Stressful situations such as the current pandemic can be emotionally and physically exhausting, from the constant headlines, worrying about the health and safety of loved ones, and anxiety of finances during a time when unemployment is climbing. While some individuals may turn to hobbies and activities to cope with their stressful environments, others may turn to drugs as a solution to temporarily ease themselves. As noted in Mustafa al’Absi’s thesis, “Stress and Addition: Biological Psychological Mechanisms,” there is a direct correlation between addiction and stressful events or ongoing anxiety. With individuals stuck inside and dealing with isolation, there’s no wonder that alcohol sales were up 55% in late March compared to last year as people look to cope with their anxiety or traumatic experiences during the pandemic. 

In a 2018 study, an estimated 164.8 million people over the age of 12 in the United States had used a substance such as illicit drugs, tobacco, or alcohol within the month prior to the survey. The use of substances to help cope with stress is a nationwide issue that many struggle with, and if not careful, can easily turn into an addiction. While studies of COVID-19’s impact on substance abuse are ongoing, it is predicted that alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use will continue its upward trend. 

How You Can Help

As your company begins to craft its Return to Work strategies, drug testing each employee can help prevent liability issues. It also gives you the ability to offer programs to help employees who may need it. Understanding the signs of addiction can help your employees get the help they need to ease self-destructive behaviors. Signs your employee may be struggling with addiction can include:

  • Unexplained changes in mood/behavior
  • Sleeping at work
  • Decline in overall appearance
  • Frequent tardiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawal from contact with other co-workers or employees
  • Outbursts of aggression 

When building a workplace program, it’s important to have an environment in which employees feels comfortable, and don’t feel like they are being judged or accused of any wrongdoing. Your goal should be to help them help themselves. Keep in mind, there is no easy way to help someone acknowledge or overcome a substance addiction.

If you have immediate concerns about an employee’s drug use as it relates to their personal safety, please contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline — 1-800-662-HELP (4357). A free and confidential service, the helpline will give you information regarding treatment centers and options for your employee. 

How We Can Help

Building a workplace program to help employees manage their addiction during and after COVID-19 can be a difficult challenge. With years of experience and a team dedicated to helping you, ARCpoint Labs has a professional solution for your company. We’re ready to help you craft a workplace program that works for all parties involved so employers can limit liability issues, and your employees can return to work safely. In a time when many individuals are focused on health, it’s important that we take care of ourselves and also our employees with coronavirus testing and drug testing.  

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