Alcohol and Substance Misuse



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Addictive substances, whether legal or illegal are a concern for all of us in society. What happens when alcohol or substance misuse enters the workplace? What can you do about it? This issue is even more pertinent if your business involves a lot of road travel or the use of heavy machinery.

The main alcohol & substance misuse considerations in the workplace are:

The legal duties of the employer and the user Supporting a worker who wants help with an addiction Having an alcohol policy

What you can do right now

Check the law – are you complying?

The legal requirements are summarised here by the Health and Safety Executive:

Of course, it is illegal to drive if over the alcohol limit or under the influence of drugs.

The drug-driving laws are changing from March 2015. Make sure your work colleagues know about the changes.

Click here for more information about prescription drug use and driving.

For more information about drink driving, please click here.

Run an Alcohol Awareness Campaign

There are a number of annual national campaigns, which you can promote. To find out more, visit the below websites.

Raise awareness of the health impacts of alcohol and substance misuse

Reliable information can be obtained from a number of organisations. To find out more, visit the below websites.

Provide information about help for addiction

Local help

Train your managers about alcohol and drug misuse

Train your team to spot the early signs of alcohol and drug misuse and make sure that you have up-to-date information available on where to find help locally. Examples of sign and symptoms include absenteeism, lateness, personality changes, changes in appearance, deterioration in relationships and misconduct.

Check these sites for help with developing a training session:

Your Alcohol & Substance Misuse Policy

What have you got in your policy? Do you cover alcohol use at business functions? Is alcohol and drug misuse explicitly mentioned in an Employee Code of Conduct? Do you incorporate drug and alcohol testing? Are you managers trained to spot the signs of drug or alcohol misuse? How is this policy linked to your Disciplinary Procedure? What’s your position on managing a colleague with an addiction problem? Will you allow an employee leave of absence for treatment? What if that colleague returns to work and has a relapse? There is a fine balance between discipline and support.

Don’t worry; there is help and guidance out there.