In 2016, more than 1 in 25 people in the United States tested positive for illicit drugs in the workplace. It is estimated that nearly 75% of people who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction continue to maintain their employment. Substance abuse can lead to high turnover rates, losses in productivity, workplace theft, absenteeism, and decreased quality of work. However, the workplace impact often goes undetected, with the negative effects attributed to other factors.

It is imperative that management has the proper training, are able to identify team members who are at-risk, and have the appropriate tools to respond efficiently when a member of staff could be suffering with poor mental health and addiction.


Co-Occurring Disorders

Individuals with mental illness are more likely to experience substance abuse problems than those not affected by a mental illness. Studies show that roughly 1 in 4 adults struggle with both. Co-occurring disorders include any combination of two or more substance use disorders and mental disorders. There are no specific combinations of mental and substance use disorders that are defined uniquely as co-occurring disorders. 


However, some of the most common mental disorders seen in medical-assisted treatment include:

  • Anxiety and mood disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorders
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia 


Patients who are being treated for mental disorders also often misuse one or more of the following substances:

  • Alcohol – Tobacco
  • Opioids – Stimulants
  • Marijuana – Hallucinogens
  • Prescription drugs


Both addiction and mental health conditions are categorized as chronic brain disorders. They can be caused by environmental factors, genetics, or a combination of both. Research shows that nearly 60% of a person’s vulnerability to addiction is genetic.


Signs of Addiction and Poor Mental Health at Work

Being able to recognize the signs of co-occurring disorders in your employee can help you to identity the type of treatment that will best support them. Some signs that an employee might have a substance abuse problem include:

  • Changes in behavior, health, and mood
  • Fatigue or falling asleep while on the clock
  • Consistently arriving to work late without a valid excuse
  • A sudden disengagement in conversations, tasks, and hobbies outside of the office
  • A disinterest in responsibilities that were once important to them and their career progression 

How does Substance Abuse Affect the Workplace?

Not only does addiction affect that person, but it also affects the workplace. Substance abuse can cause a range of different problems in the workplace, including: 


  • Poor decision making                                 – Abuse of company time
  • Frequent tardiness                                      – Unreliable attendance
  • Loss of productivity                                     – Overall lower quality of work
  • Overuse of sick and paid leave days         – Mood and behavior problems
  • Higher turnover                                            – Trouble concentrating 

Supporting Employees with a Co-Occurring Disorder

Using an integrated approach to tackle the symptoms simultaneously is often the best option for employees experiencing co-occurring disorders. To address and support employees seeking mental health treatment, you could provide support including: 

  • On-site counselors
  • Lifestyle changes, such as meditation classes, information on better sleep hygiene, or a gym membership to encourage exercise and a healthier lifestyle for your team
  • Employee assistance programs, including internal programs, external programs, blended programs, management-sponsored programs, member assistance programs, and peer-based programs

Start Your Road to Recovery Today

If you still aren’t sure about how the recovery process works, no need to worry. Here at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center, we understand how nerve-wracking or intimidating it can be to start your addiction recovery journey and our team of professionals is here to help! Our recovery centers offer several different recovery programs to choose from, including residential treatment, professionals program, medical detox, intensive outpatient treatment, relapse track, 3-day evaluation, and a family program. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance addiction, call our office today at 318-728-2970!