Dealing with prescription drug abuse in the workplace

Misuse is on the rise and can have serious consequences
By Nadine Wentzell
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/16/2014

We all want and expect employees to arrive fit for work and remain fit for duty throughout the workday. But the most recent statistics and best evidence suggest there is a rising problem with prescription drug use. The impact on our workplace and workforce manifests itself in countless insidious ways, both tangible and intangible.

The question is: How do you know if someone is unsafe or unfit for work due to prescription and non-prescription drug use? And is this really something you need to be concerned about?

Most of us put prescription drugs in a different category than illegal street drugs. We tend to stereotype prescription and over-the-counter drugs as legitimate and safe. And that is accurate — most of the time. Often the use of these medications is legitimate, or at least it starts out that way. But sometimes that use escalates and becomes abuse or out-of-control use. And the associated behaviours can pose a significant health and safety risk — both for the individual and his employer.