Confronting employees the only way to reduce workplace substance abuse

Workers are more likely to take remedial action to treat substance abuse, as well as reducing workplace intoxication and substance use, if their supervisors know how to identify it and confront their employees, a new study from the University of Buffalo has found. The study evaluated the prevalence, predictors and outcomes of alcohol and drug use and was the first America wide study to consider substance abuse in the workplace as well as outside of it.

Supervisor enforcement and intervention leads to lower levels of illicit drug use both on and off the job, but does not decrease employees out of hours alcohol intake.

“Contact with a supervisor, no matter how often, is not a strong enough deterrent for some employees,” says study author Dr. Michael Frone. “It’s only when employees think their supervisor knows how to detect substance use—and is willing to do something about it—that employees’ drinking and drug use on the job decreases.”

The study recommends that employers train their supervisors in spotting and confronting employees about substance abuse, with the benefit of improving employee productivity.

“Our other research suggests that it may also reduce stress and improve morale among the majority of employees who do not engage in such behaviour,” says Dr. Frone.

Read more at University of Buffalo