Alcoholics Drink Because they Believe Alcohol is the Solution

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Alcoholism shows itself in different ways and there are many different drinking patterns but there are constants as well. This is from 30 years of reading, working and observation in the field.

  1. Their body is not normal. When they drink it sets up a craving for more. They then drink too much and then suffer symptoms and consequences. So you say the cure is easy and that is true. Don’t drink. Many alcoholics have gone a long time without a drink but the other problem is that………..
  2. Their mind is not normal. Unfortunately, the alcoholic when getting the idea to drink somehow forgets how bad the situation was before. They may have ended up in the detox centre or been caught for drunk driving but they forget this just before they have that first drink. It only takes a minute of thinking like this to pick up a drink and start the ball rolling again. One is too many and a thousand is not enough. They have memory lapses of what the last time they drank did to them and they start them on the cycle again.
  3. The illness is progressive. Sometimes the alcoholic will go for a period and look like they are drinking socially. That is their dream but they can’t keep this up. The alcoholic mind will present to the alcoholic the idea that this time it will be different and that they can now drink like normal people despite anything that may have happened previously in the past. They will keep getting the idea to drink and usually at very inopportune times. The cycle starts again and it gets worse over time.

Alcoholics have a hard time adjusting to life the way that it is. Their belief system tells them that it should be easier that what it is or that they have been given bad breaks. They are not all grown up as they appear. Something is missing. To them life is their problem. Life is at times hard and hurtful and they have found that alcohol is their solution. They can be anxious, depressed, angry, self-absorbed and discontented and the one thing that they have learned in the past very well is that alcohol fixes these things very quickly. So you see alcohol is a solution to their problem.

Returning a worker to Work after Alcohol or Drug Infraction

20170710_114319One day in a shopping mall I overheard a conversation between two young ladies. One was telling the other that she had just failed her driving test because she did not completely stop at a stop sign. Apparently, the examiner immediately cancelled the rest of the test and told her she had failed because of that one action. She told her friend how shocked and hurt she was as she felt she performed pretty well during the other parts of the driving test. She was furious at the examiner for not passing her. She claimed it was all his fault that she didn’t pass.

I thought about how this story relates to my role in the whole return-to-duty process. The driving examiner was preventing unsafe drivers from getting their license. The young woman thought that since she only went through one stop sign and didn’t hurt anyone, she should be forgiven. She reasoned that lots of people go through stop signs without harm. The difference was she was with an examiner trained to spot mistakes. If she was unable to refrain from going through a stop sign with an examiner in the car, what kind of driver would she be when she was by herself? That is basically how I look at return-to-duty as well. If an employee is not going to make the effort to help themselves while they are out of work and being monitored, why would they make any effort to stay well when they are returned to their job functions?

The answer is that they won’t.

Barriers to Change

Barriers to Change
In our society, there two things that are big barriers for an addict wanting to make a positive change.

1. The first barrier is our refusal to believe that the problem may actually be addiction. There is a hesitancy to see addiction at the root of certain problems in society and in the workplace. We don’t connect the dots or see the pattern where it exists, and we are always ready to believe it may be something else. Addiction seems like a situation that is too complicated for people to deal with. Education is the key to breaking down this barrier. If a manager or supervisor knew what they were dealing with and the consequences of not dealing with it, they would be compelled to act. And if they understood what to do, they would feel confident about making the necessary decisions.
2. The other barrier is enabling. We as individuals do it, and we have allowed our institutions to do it as well. We prevent the addict from seeing that they actually have an addiction through various ways. We can build a treatment centre on every city block, but if the addict does not believe that there is a problem and that they need help, they won’t go to them.

Wait for the Addict to Hit Bottom? Heck No!

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Wait for the Addict to Hit Bottom? Heck No!

Managers have told me that they have to wait for an addicted employee to hit bottom before anything can be done. While it is true that the addict must reach a bottom or place where they do not want to go again, it is not true that you have to wait. You can act now by making boundaries, drawing your own line in the sand, and by having a procedure or process in place to handle the outcome. Whether the addict changes or not, you must change in order to deal with the problem. You eventually find out through the process whether there is a problem and whether the employee will deal with it or not. The beauty of the process is that what you have to do to make the workplace safe is the thing that the addict may need to hit a bottom or a crisis.

Substance dependent individuals recover in different ways. Some stop immediately and never to return to usage. These are the ones that hit a firm bottom, decide they want to change and act on that desire.

On the other hand, I’ve also witnessed a common pattern: a person hits a bottom, but they forget about what caused it, no action is taken and eventually drug use returns. They will either stop before it gets too bad or be lost again. Occasionally I read about individuals I’ve dealt with through their company policy who have died violently or in some other manner related to their addiction. You might as well know what you are dealing with. It is not pretty.

Do you want to go down the tubes with the addicted employee, or give them a firm chance to get and stay clean? If an employee is having addiction affect their work, deal with it now instead of waiting until they get into serious trouble and possibly hurt others in the workplace.

There is No Magic to Sober Someone Up but ….

There is No Magic to Sober Someone Up

but

The Magic is in the Process

I don’t have any power over anyone and I can’t sober people up and keep them that way. That is way beyond my capabilities. There can be some magic created when an employee has to face a well- run process that causes them to have to look at themselves. There is the magic. That is my experience and that is what I have seen. We don’t wait for people to “come around” and take on that risk and liability. We act with a process that has boundaries and that makes people accountable for their own actions.

Steve Chandler, a business author, has a book where he discusses the choice between people pleasing others or serving them. Serving them gives them reality and employees acting out sometimes are very unhappy to get a dose of that. People pleasing is what the suffering employee wants because they don’t really want to change. They tell you they want to change and promise this is the last time but they don’t. Baby them, tell them it is all right this time, bend the rules and risk an unsafe workplace and they will be happy with you but that is people pleasing and it could bite you in a bad place down the road. Serving can be unpopular but it is the right and safe thing to do. The employee won’t like it but they may thank you for saving their life when they do straighten up.  Do you serve or people please?

 

Nova Scotia Doctor Charged With Trafficking Oxys, this is very bad

http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1344413-n.s.-doctor-charged-with-trafficking-oxy-pills

Prescription pill bottle containing oxycodone and acetaminophen are shown in this June 20, 2012 photo. (CP)

Prescription pill bottle containing oxycodone and acetaminophen are shown in this June 20, 2012 photo. (CP)

A Nova Scotia doctor has been charged with drug trafficking after police accused her of prescribing 50,000 potent opioid pills to a hospital patient who never received them.

Bridgewater police said Wednesday that 35-year-old Sarah Dawn Jones wrote prescriptions for oxycodone and oxyneo pills of a variety of dosages over a one-year period.

Police Chief John Collyer said it’s alleged the physician prescribed the powerful painkillers for a patient at the local hospital, but picked up the prescriptions herself at a Bridgewater pharmacy.

He said he’s concerned that a doctor is at the centre of the case, in a province that’s seen a series of deaths of young people tied to illegally circulating prescription drugs. According to the Canadian Journal of Addiction Medicine, there were 295 deaths tied to prescription drugs in Nova Scotia between 2007 and 2010.

“The trafficking of prescription narcotics is a problem throughout Nova Scotia. We’ve had a number of high profile deaths over the years, so we take it very seriously,” Collyer said in a telephone interview.

Jones is also accused of possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking, theft, breach of trust, drawing a document without authority and fraud.

This isn’t the first time a health care professional in Nova Scotia has been accused of malpractice in relation to prescription drugs. Dr. Trevor Locke, a family doctor based in Truro, was reprimanded in November for loosely prescribing opiates and failing to meet standards.

In September, Amanda Reid pleaded guilty to selling hydromorphone and fentanyl after stealing the drugs from the hospital where she worked.

Dr. Gus Grant, registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Nova Scotia, said medicine as an industry needs to accept a degree of responsibility for the “extraordinarily damaging social reality” of prescription drug abuse in Nova Scotia, and continue working to find solutions.

“Medicine has an important ownership to claim part of this problem,” he said in an interview. “I think finding a solution begins with a broader and clearer awareness of the extent of this problem within the medical profession and society as a whole.”

Grant said the college works closely with physicians to ensure opioid painkillers are always prescribed appropriately. The college also conducts peer reviews, as well as investigating and initiating complaints.

“We point physicians in the direction of resources and learning tools that will allow them to continue prescribing appropriately,” he said.

“We are primarily a watchdog, but I like to think we’re a guide dog as well.”

Grant also said the Nova Scotia prescription monitoring program, which he runs, is a great resource for physicians, regulators and lawmakers.

The provincially-funded program tracks specific prescription data for monitored drugs all over the province.

“Everything in medicine begins with data,” he said.

“The prescription monitoring program is an important tool for physicians to provide good care, and get feedback about the use of medications by their patients. It also allows regulators to track prescription data. We can track how much prescribing is being done, by whom, and where.”

Jones worked at the Crossroads Family Practice in the Halifax suburb of Tantallon, but Grant said she’s under an interim suspension and has stopped practising.

He also said Jones’ alleged crimes were reported to the college by a clinical pharmacist.

“The proactive steps taken by the individual who contacted the college should be applauded. That’s what health professionals should do,” he said. “The college and law enforcement have also worked very well together in this regard.”

Jones has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Bridgewater on May 11.

Drunk Driving, This is a Truly Pathetic Story

Victor Rosa

When are we going to change something here? The old tools do not work anymore.

A Dorchester man has been charged with driving while intoxicated for the ninth time, according to Lincoln police, who said they pulled him over with a child in his vehicle.

Victor Rosa, 61, was stopped on Saturday about 3:30 p.m. on Route 2, according to police.

Rosa was ordered held without bail Monday in Concord District Court, Kennedy said. He has a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Friday. The child was between 8 and 12 years old, police said.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/30/dorchester-man-hit-with-drunk-driving-charge-after-arrest-lincoln/lnrLcIkigoY4Bm4R2ac6nM/story.html#comments

Drunk Driving

Last Chance Agreements

Last Chance Agreements

There is another tool for accountability that can be used in certain situations with an employee if you have decided that their next disciplinary action is termination. This tool makes it very clear that certain behaviour will not be tolerated.

Basically, it is a document that is drawn up by the employer where it has been agreed that no more chances will be given to this employee unless certain continued conditions are met. Legal counsel is desirable in this type of agreement to make sure that the document is solid in the eyes of the law. It is then thoroughly explained to the employee what the conditions are for continued employment like passing drug tests or showing up for work on time for example. The effect of the agreement is that it promotes the idea that there is a limit to what the employer will tolerate. The employee hopefully gets the picture that firm boundaries are in place and the next and final action will be termination.

The employee agrees to behave in an acceptable manner going forward and could be terminated without a grievance or a legal dispute if problems arise. That agreement is then signed as a condition for their return to work. This may be a very useful tool as it promotes responsible action by helping the person realize that there are serious consequences to continued poor choices that affect workplace performance.

Unfortunately, with some individuals, even that consequence does not promote enough motivation for a change in behaviour. They slip and get back on some substance and are caught and that is that. Strangely enough, this is when many addicts actually look at themselves after they have lost their job so this scenario can have a positive outcome. I have seen recovering addicts re-apply for their job after a year of clean time and get it because they have straightened out their life so all is not lost.

What do you do if you think there may be hope when the employee slips? You can keep an employee working after they violated a last chance agreement if you feel they deserve another chance. Maybe a re-assessment is in order to see what their motivation for change really is and if there is a solid action plan. You can then let them go or keep them on the payroll as you will have more information to make your choice after the assessment. There may have been a good long period of acceptable behaviour and you may believe that the slip was more of a bump in the road than a permanent decent. Again, last chance agreements are not for all situations but simply another tool worth knowing about in dealing with substance abuse issues. From what I have seen, accountability promotes behaviour change with substance abuse and addiction and this is one way to help and keep the workplace safe.last chance