The Hidden Cost of Addiction in the Workplace

Editorial Team

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The Hidden Cost of Addiction in the Workplace

A place of business that loses even three to five percent of its employees to a drug addiction has a huge problem on its hands. Addiction in the workplace costs each place of business billions of dollars, and the money is lost in both extra healthcare costs and lost productivity. The unfortunate truth is that the cost of healthcare is not the only area that suffers when there is a problem with illicit substances and alcohol.

Addiction in the workplace also damages employee morale, decreases productivity and lowers everybody’s profit margins.

How Substance Abuse Affects the Workplace

Most people are completely unaware of the fact that drug addiction affects so many businesses in the United States. When people are having problems with a drug addiction, it is not uncommon for them to miss several days of work. Productivity is not only affected by their absence, but it also suffers when employees addicted to drugs are present at the office. That is because they are unable to concentrate on their jobs while they are under the influence of a substance.

When people cannot pay full attention to their jobs, another problem presents itself. In this instance, the employees have the potential to cause serious accidents because they are unable to concentrate on the job at hand. Not surprisingly, this creates a highly dangerous workplace.

A substance abuse issue can also cause people to treat those who work underneath them badly. This lowers the quality of life that these employees enjoy.

Lastly, when things are not going well at work, an employee’s outside relationships can suffer as well. After a work-related injury, for example, the employee’s family members will be forced to perform the injured employee’s household duties, and this may cause problems and conflict at home.

The Statistics of Substance Abuse

Many statistics demonstrate that substance abuse in the workplace is widespread. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse or NCADD, 70 percent of the American population is ingesting illegal substances and going to a job every day.

We can deduce that these people are causing the negative effects described above at their places of employment. Experts estimated that substance abuse at work cost employers $80.9 billion in 1992. Undoubtedly, this number is higher now.

Illicit drugs are not the only problem, employees are also drinking while they are at work. According to the NCADD, at-risk drinkers were the reason for 35 percent of visits to the emergency room that were due to injuries that occurred on the job. Similarly, employees who drink are 2.7 times more likely to experience an injury than their counterparts who do not drink. Within the past year, 24 percent of employees admitted that they have taken a drink while they were on the job.

Solving the Problem of Addiction in the Workplace

Some people believe that an employer does not have the right to discuss substance abuse, but not everyone agrees with that sentiment. Some people state that employers have the obligation to support drug addiction treatment and recovery in their workplaces, and it isn’t just a moral decision.

Supporting drug abuse treatment is also good for business. If just 5 percent of a company’s employees are addicted to an illicit substance, the business will suffer greatly because this population calls in sick on a regular basis. These employees also cause a company to spend a lot of time in court.

The Benefits of Employee Assistance Programs

Strong Employee Assistance Programs or EAPs help employers support drug abuse treatment and recovery. Programs such as these help Human Resources encourage their employees to live healthier lives. They also address the issues of employees who are struggling with a drug addiction and help them get into a treatment program. Experts state that if a company spends $1 on an EAP, that company will get $3 back.

EAPs also make it unnecessary for a company to hire new employees. It costs a company much more money to hire and train new employees than it does to encourage those addicted to substances to enter into drug addiction treatment and recovery programs.

For example, experts performed a study on airline pilots, and they found that pilots in recovery are more productive than those who never had a substance abuse problem or those who had a problem but never sought treatment, and this makes sense. Pilots who are in recovery are more aware of what is going on around them, because they are working hard to remain sober in recovery.

The Most Affected Industries

Every industry has been touched by substance abuse, but some have been disrupted more than others. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration performed a study that illuminated the fact that the construction, food service and accommodation industries are disproportionately affected by alcoholism.

Blue collar industries are not the only ones with employees who have issues with substance abuse. If a company is in an industry that promotes social drinking, white collar workers will be affected. First responders and others who have particularly stressful jobs also tend to try to help themselves relax by indulging in substances and alcohol.

The best thing that companies can do is promote EAP programs and work toward reducing the stigma of drug and alcohol abuse. It would also be beneficial if employers were to add drug-free policies to their agendas so that they can promote drug-free workplaces.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, take the right steps today. Contact SpringBoard Recovery to learn more about how to take advantage of EAP programs and overcome your addiction today.


  1. Harvard Health Publishing:,decreases%20in%20quality%20of%20work.
  2. EHS Today:
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse:
  4. WebMD:
  5. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion:
  6. Council on Substance Abuse NCADD:
  7. Verywell mind:
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse:
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse:
  10. WebMD:

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AUGUST 20, 2018

Robert Castan is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at SpringBoard Recovery. Robert started his professional career as a house manager and has become an industry leader and trusted voice in the treatment world. He brings extensive knowledge of organizational growth, industry-leading outcomes, and comprehensive marketing to SpringBoard Recovery. Robert has been walking his own path of recovery for over 10 years. This path has truly driven his ambition to help make treatment available to others who are struggling with addiction. Robert finds great joy in traveling and keeping physically active, with an emphasis on biking. Robert resides in Arizona with his husband and two four-legged children.   The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic   Zombies and Other Future Threats to the Health of American Youth Dire Mental Health: A Catalyst for Post-Pandemic Drug Addiction The Benefits of Rehab Center Staff Working Their Own Recovery Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship Castan: The road less traveled of addiction & recovery in Scottsdale Opioids & COVID Driving Phoenix’s Rising Fatal Drug Overdoses Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Successful Addiction Treatment Programs & Entrepreneurship

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