Identifying Alcohol or Drug Abuse in the Work Place

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Addiction Expert Dr. Indra Cidambi Spells Out Warning Signs Your Co-Worker May Be Abusing Drugs

Addiction Medicine Expert Dr. Indra Cidambi

“Employees with a substance abuse disorder tend to experience more job turnover as a result of absenteeism or overuse of sick time,” says Dr. Indra Cidambi.

Substance abuse (alcohol, prescription drugs and illicit drugs) in the workplace is a serious issue with negative consequences for employers. Over 77% of illicit drug users are employed in the workplace, according to a National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, and statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show that alcoholism alone results in 500 million lost workdays every year.

“The use of drugs or alcohol in the workplace has profound implications for the employer,” says leading Addiction Expert, Dr. Indra Cidambi. Employees who use drugs are likely to miss work, which may negatively impact costs and customer service. They are more likely to file workmen’s compensation claims, as workplace accidents are more likely, or, in some cases, it may increase employer’s liability if employees harm others or steal. Consequently, employers need to be able to recognize warning signs of substance abuse:

1.    Personality Changes: “Individuals affected by substance abuse show distinct changes in personality, with no identifiable cause,” says Dr. Cidambi. They are likely to become more moody and irritable and they have difficulty paying attention. They may lose their motivation and energy and display an “I don’t care” attitude.

2.    Physical Signs: “Physical symptoms of addiction are also evident,” says Dr. Cidambi. “Physical symptoms to watch for include: cold, sweaty palms and shaking hands; runny nose and frequent rubbing of the nose; red, watery eyes; and a loss of interest in personal care and hygiene.”

3.    Frequent Restroom Use: People who use substances at work have a frequent need to carve out some private space – they may need to ingest, snort or inject drugs, sleep off the effects, or pass out. They may also experience nausea, vomiting or other drug/alcohol-related side effects, which could send them to the bathroom more frequently.

4.    Unexplained Absences/Tardiness: Individuals using substances are frequently unable to fulfill their responsibilities. They are more inclined to call in sick, or show up late for work. “Employees with a substance abuse disorder tend to experience more job turnover as a result of absenteeism or overuse of sick time,” says Dr. Cidambi. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), employees with substance abuse issues were more likely to report frequent job changes in the past year.

5.    Always in Need of Money: “The cost of obtaining drugs or alcohol for heavy, daily use can be prohibitive,” says Dr. Cidambi. Consequently, the need for money is chronic and employees using substances may frequently borrow money from colleagues. They may even build relationships with co-workers just so they can borrow money.

“It is not always that any of these signs and symptoms by themselves point to substance abuse,” cautions Dr. Cidambi, “but a cluster should be a cause for concern.” Alcohol and drugs can invade all facets of the workplace without regard to occupation or demographic group and they can impact the employer financially. If you know someone who is exhibiting these signs, it is important to get that co-worker/employee the help they need. It may be by talking to the co-worker’s immediate boss or contacting Human Resources.

For more information on substance abuse dependency, addiction and treatment, please go to http://www.RecoveryCNT.com.

About Dr. Indra Cidambi
Indra Cidambi, M.D., Medical Director, Center for Network Therapy, is recognized as a leading expert and pioneer in the field of Addiction Medicine. Under her leadership the Center for Network Therapy started New Jersey’s first state licensed Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification program for all substances nearly three years ago. Dr. Cidambi is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and double Board Certified in Addiction Medicine (ABAM, ABPN). She is fluent in five languages, including Russian.

About Center for Network Therapy
Center for Network Therapy (CNT) was the first facility in New Jersey to be licensed to provide Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification Services for all substances of abuse – alcohol, anesthetics, benzodiazepines, opiates and other substances of abuse. Led by a Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist, Indra Cidambi, M.D., experienced physicians and nurses closely monitor each patient’s progress. With CNT’s superior client care and high quality treatment, Dr. Cidambi and her clinical team have successfully detoxed over 600 patients in nearly three years.

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Marisa Amador
Rubenstein PR
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