As the pandemic continues more adults are using drugs to treat their mental health conditions. According to the CDC, feelings of anxiety have risen during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. To supplement these feelings adults are using marijuana, which poses concerns for companies across the country.
In a study from the International Journal of Drug Policy, 47% of participants responded that their substance use has increased during COVID-19. These staggering numbers indicate a bigger issue of how to handle mental health and drug use in the workplace.
With workers coming back into the office as places reopen, it’s possible that these new drug habits are also being transitioned into the workplace. Companies that do not help inform their staff of the dangers of drug-use on the clock, or do not have an effective drug testing policy, are increasing their risk.
RECOGNIZING WARNING SIGNS
Certain behaviors occur frequently amongst substance abusers. These behaviors do not always indicate a substance abuse problem, but may warrant discussions with the particular employee. Key indicators of substance abuse can include:
- Increase of accidents, inside and outside of the workplace
- Unexplained absences or frequent disappearances
- Excessive use of sick days, typically with late notice
- Increased time to complete standard tasks
- Isolating from friends and coworkers
- Poor hygiene and worsening appearance
HOW TO HELP EMPLOYEES COPE
A common reason for drug use is as a mental health coping tactic. Whether it’s addressing anxiety, looking to focus on their work, or simply an escape from their current situation, they believe drugs can help them cope.
This provides an avenue for companies to help its employees manage their mental health. A few ways employers can help include:
- Adding mental health coverage to medical plan offerings
- Reduce stigma around mental health, and communicate resources
- Promote well-being through workplace wellness or scheduling flexibility
Of course there are plenty of other ways businesses can help address mental health issues in the workplace; asking employees through an anonymous survey can provide insights as to exactly how your business can help.
IMPLEMENT EFFECTIVE DRUG TESTING POLICIES
With workers returning to the workplace, a comprehensive drug testing policy can limit your business’s liability and risk of incidents. While workers may not use drugs on the clock as soon as they’re back in the office, establishing an effective policy can help identify employees that need help over time. Five steps of implementing this new or revamped policy should include:
- Draft a policy that is compliant with state and federal laws
- Train supervisors on reasonable suspicion and warning signs of drug use
- Train your employees on the parameters of the policy
- Provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to help stop addictions
- Follow through with drug testing
At ARCpoint Labs, we’re dedicated to keeping work environments free of drug and alcohol use. Our employer services include everything from drug policy development to ongoing testing for your team. With a nationwide network of labs, our industry experts are ready to help your business stay productive as we return to normal. Contact your local ARCpoint Labs office for more information on how to get started.