When managers ask me how to help one of their employees, I usually ask them some questions to find out what the problem is. I have seen the same patterns repeated over and over again in many workplaces trying to deal with an addicted employee. The employee gets in trouble, he or she gets a talking to or maybe even a letter, the addict promises to be good, everyone forgets the issue and then the addict gets in trouble again. The problem here is that with no serious action, there is no accountability and therefore there are no results. Without boundaries, the problem will reoccur.
The workplace needs a procedure that can be used to find solutions that are legal, ethical and helpful but primarily geared to safety. If substance abuse and addiction are looked at from the standpoint of safety, then a whole new pathway opens up. We then see that untreated addiction can be a serious risk that must be mitigated in some way. Our future action will stem from this viewpoint, with safety as the focus.
Keeping the workplace safe has positive implications for the whole of society. If a suffering person is helped before resources in the community are involved, then that is a big savings. For instance, health care, social services and the justice system can be tied up with problems that are really addiction in disguise. If the workplace has a practical procedure for dealing with substance abuse, then they are in a position to help. I have seen many people recover because their workplace was using a procedure to deal with substance abuse issues.