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Can You Force Someone into Rehab for Using Drugs at Work?

Drugs at Work

October 2 2019 - Did you know that it's estimated 25 million Americans have a substance abuse problem?

Are you afraid someone in your workplace might be part of that statistic?

In this article, you'll discover the answer to the question, can you force someone into rehab? Read on to find out what to do if you suspect your employee has a drug problem and how to find out.

What Is Substance Abuse?

Before proceeding and talking about looking for signs, it's important to understand what substance abuse is exactly. It could be the use of illegal substances such as drugs, or the misuse and abuse of alcohol or prescription medications.

They consume it in an amount or way that's harmful to themselves or others.

Gather Resources

Before a problem is even found, you should have a list of support groups, other resources, and treatment facilities in the area or even online therapy providers if someone is suffering from substance abuse. Make sure it's available for everyone in your company to view because sometimes an employee can quietly suffer and want to seek help.

1. Look for Signs

When you suspect someone in your workplace is using illegal or addictive substances, you'll want to first look for any signs they're using. Check and see if their performance at work has suddenly declined, and see if they're missing more work than usual. Pay attention to if they have a loss of concentration.

Did they always have a polished look coming into work, but lately they've been looking disheveled? Pay attention to if they have bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or major weight loss/gain.

Look out for any change in behavior, such as fighting with other co-workers and being more argumentative than usual. Also, if they're more withdrawn, or seem more depressed, that could be a sign something is wrong.

Does your employee seem like they're constantly moving around keeping busy but not getting much done? This could be a sign of addiction.

Remember, it's important to notice a difference in behavior and productivity because it can affect the productivity and comfort of all of your employees.

2. Check Your Policy

You'll want to make sure you have a written alcohol and drug testing policy. Every company should have a company policy that states your employees can't use alcohol or drugs during work hours.

Make sure the policy states you can drug test for suspicious behavior.

Your policy should also include:

  • The company's expectations for behavior
  • Explains the company's procedure for handling substance abuse
  • How you should respond to claims of possible abuse
  • How the investigative process works
  • That the policy aligns with federal, local laws and regulations, plus state laws

If your policy doesn't include this then you'll want to reach out to a law firm who specializes in drug and alcohol abuse.

3. Document

Make sure to document all complaints and behavior changes from co-workers about this person. Signs of substance abuse often come from co-workers before a supervisor notices. 

4. Test & Meet

Drug testing is a legality, so make sure you have the proper documentation before proceeding. Before sending the employee for drug testing, have a meeting with all documentation included. Make sure to have a witness in the meeting as well.

When speaking with your employee, make sure it comes off as more concern for them than an interrogation. Tell them the changed behavior patterns you've noticed, and go over the workplace substance abuse policies.

You'll want to have a drug consent form signed from the employee before proceeding with the drug test. If the employee refuses the test, check the drug policy at your company and see what occurs if they refuse.

Some companies treat refusing a drug test as a positive test result.

5. Can You Force Someone Into Rehab?

Whether the results are positive or negative, you'll want to let your employee know. If the results are negative, the employee can return back to work. If behavior problems are present, it's best to discuss this with your employee to get to the root cause.

If the results come back positive, you have the right to send them for treatment or counseling. Once they've completed their treatment, they can then return to work. If the employee returns again to work under the influence, you have the right to terminate their employment.

Remember, ignoring the problem is the worst thing you can do.

6. Consult a Professional

You'll want to enlist the help of an HR professional or employment attorney to best handle these problems from your employee's substance abuse. Once you think an employee has a problem, you should be in contact with this professional immediately. 

It's also important to protect your company from any liability if your employee does any damage while they're under the influence.

7. Gathering Treatment Referrals

Contact your company's health insurance provider and see if they have a network of substance abuse providers who they prefer. Keep in mind, your top priority is maintaining a productive and safe work environment for all employees.

Always treat your employee's substance abuse problem with compassion and treat it professionally as well.

Next Steps

Thinking a current employee has a substance abuse problem can feel like an overwhelming process. Make sure to always document everything and go over all of the company policies.

Refer to this list before you begin trying to answer the question, can you force someone into rehab?

Would you like to learn more about human resources and actions you can take in the workplace? Check out our other articles. 

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