Novus Medical Detox Center Advises Employers on Best Practices for Handling Substance Abuse in the Workplace

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With illicit drug use among U.S. workers on the rise, Novus Medical Detox Center shares advice for employers on how to approach, assist and handle employees who show potential signs of a substance use disorder.

Will Wesch, Director of Admissions at Novus Medical Detox Center, comments on the proper ways to deal with drugs abuse in the workplace.

Substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life, and rising drug use among workers is an issue employers may have to contend with at some point.

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 28.5 million U.S. workers admit to having used illicit drugs within the past year—an increase of almost 10% over the previous year.* Amid this rising substance abuse, employers may be more likely to see behavior or performance issues that suggest employees are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work. Novus Medical Detox Center, a leading Florida-based drug treatment facility, urges employers to familiarize themselves with best practices to help deter, address and resolve substance abuse in the workplace.

Illicit drug use—including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and recreational/non-medical use of prescription medications—is more common than many people realize. The NSDUH findings revealed that 58% of full-time employees and 54% of part-time employees have used illicit drugs during their lifetime, while roughly 1 in 5 have done so in the past year. Furthermore, of the 39.8 million Americans who admit to past-year drug use, 7 out of 10 of them are employed full- or part-time.*

“Substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life, and rising drug use among workers is an issue employers may have to contend with at some point,” said Will Wesch, Director of Admissions for Novus Medical Detox Center. “Larger companies tend to have written policies and drug testing, so individuals with substance use disorders are more likely to seek employment with firms that don’t have these measures in place. We recommend that all employers implement a drug-free workplace program, with documentation and education on how staff should handle suspected cases of alcohol or substance abuse in the workplace.”

Wesch advises companies to begin by reviewing the [Drug-Free Workplace Advisor resources hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), including details on the five key components of a drug-free workplace:

  • Written Policy – This document outlines the employer’s stance on drug use, prohibited behaviors, enforcement, consequences and other relevant details. Companies that do not currently have a formal policy can use the DOL’s interactive policy builder to create one.
  • Supervisor Training – It is critical for supervisors to understand the policy and their responsibilities in relation to it, as well as how to identify and handle performance issues that may be related to alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Employee Education – All employees should be required to review and sign the written policy, and they should be informed of the resources that are available to them, such as informational literature and support programs.
  • Employee Assistance – An employee assistance program (EAP) offers confidential services such as education, counseling and/or referrals that can help workers address substance abuse or other personal problems.
  • Drug Testing – Testing can be very effective in deterring and identifying substance abuse; however, its use is subject to federal, state and local regulations. Employers are strongly recommended to seek legal counsel and familiarize themselves with applicable laws and restrictions.

Employers can find additional resources—including legal requirements, drug testing guidelines and an online toolkit—on the Drug-Free Workplace Programs page of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.

While a drug-free workplace program will provide important guidance and protocols in handling suspected cases of substance abuse, Wesch emphasizes that employers should always maintain confidentiality, respect and sensitivity in dealing with employees. He advises approaching the individual in private, and focusing on performance or behavioral issues—such as tardiness, absenteeism, missed deadlines, egregious errors, or arguments/conflicts with others—rather than making accusations or voicing suspicions. He also counsels employers to act immediately if workers show signs of substance abuse, since the issue is likely to worsen if not addressed, and to ensure they have access to professional help.

“Demonstrating compassion and support benefits both the employer and worker,” noted Wesch. “A doctor’s opioid prescription could lead an otherwise model employee to become dependent or addicted. You’ve already invested in hiring and training this individual; by providing counseling, referrals or treatment, you can regain a productive employee while helping that person get his or her life back.”

Novus has helped many people overcome substance use disorders through its medically supervised alcohol and drug treatment programs, which allow patients to manage their withdrawal symptoms with minimal discomfort. The Florida detox facility employs proven medical protocols and individually customized treatment plans, and provides 24-hour access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Novus is renowned for its expertise in treating high-dose methadone cases, and is equally proficient in detoxing patients from other opioids, drugs and alcohol just as safely, comfortably and effectively.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its alcohol and drug treatment programs, visit http://www.novusdetox.com.

About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation as an inpatient medical detox facility. Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Novus provides safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs that are based on proven medical protocols and designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The facility is located on 3.25 acres in New Port Richey, Florida, in a tranquil, spa-like setting bordering protected conservation land. Intent on proving that detox doesn’t have to be painful or degrading, Novus set out to transform the industry by bringing humanity into medical detox with individually customized treatment programs and 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Today, Novus is renowned as a champion of industry standardization and a staunch advocate of patients fighting to overcome substance use disorders. Frequently recognized for its contributions to the industry and local community, Novus has become a regular source to media publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has ranked in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50, the Florida Business Journal’s Top 500 and the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more information on Novus’ medically supervised detox programs, visit http://novusdetox.com.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables; September 2014; Tables 1.23A and 1.23B. samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs2014/NSDUH-DetTabs2014.htm

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