Lethal Mix: How Substance Abuse Affects Work

Lethal Mix: How Substance Abuse Affects Work

When people talk of drugs, they always think of people in the streets or partying excessively without a care in the world. As exaggerated as this sounds, these images are just part of the reality that encompasses substance abuse. In fact, substance abuse can affect a lot of things more than health and functionality. Here’s how substance abuse affects work, and why the two are a lethal mix you should avoid.

According to the World Health Organization, substance abuse, especially that of psychoactive substances, can actually pose a significant threat to various dimensions of the community. Not only does it have a profound effect on the economy, it can also affect life on a social, and health level as well. According to WHO stats, there are around 185 million users of illicit drugs, 2 billion frequent consumers of alcohol, and 1.3 billion smokers.


Who Are At Risk?

When it comes to the workplace, when there’s a culture of alcohol usage across worker groups and industries, there are actually particular “kinds” of industries that report higher chances of harmful drinking patterns compared to other occupational groups. Part of this can be influenced by the culture of the workplace, the environment of work, the nature of work, and the people employed.

In terms of statistics, male workers are more susceptible to alcohol abuse during work.

  • Workers aged 14 to 29 years of age are more at risk to be abusing alcohol at work.
  • Those in industries related to manual occupations might be at higher risks of drinking alcohol during work. These include construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and mining industries.


When There’s A Culture?

When there’s a culture of alcoholism in the workplace, it doesn’t just revolve around having available alcohol in the vicinity. This revolves around the expectations, behavior, and attitudes of workers towards alcohol in general. Having developed a culture across the workplace can affect various aspects of work , including:

  • People who are used to being isolated, especially workers who are separated from friends and family, are more susceptible for alcohol consumption due to a lack of social activities, boredom, or loneliness.
  • People who are used to drinking too much after work may find it affects their shift hours.
  • People who are used to socializing through drinking too much may affect things such as harassment, bullying, and workplace relationships.
  • On a management level, a culture of alcoholism may mean inadequate supervision, less attention to working conditions, organizational change, and even inadequate training on the job.

On The Job

When there’s a culture of alcohol in a particular place of business, this can affect how people are conducting their performance in the first place. These include:

  • There’s a profound risk in safety that can result in death or injury if not carefully observed. These generally involved operation of vehicles and heavy machinery.
  • Alcoholism can have a profound effect in workplace relationships, especially when it comes to those who don’t drink alcohol too much with performance suffering due to a “hangover” or another worker from a party.
  • As per the above, risks of absenteeism and lower quality of work can be attributed to poor decision making on part of employees affected by alcohol.



When it comes to substance abuse, always remember that a lot of chemicals are considered illegal for good reason. While some of these chemicals are used as prescription and sometimes as a source of relaxation like alcohol, excessive use of these substances can affect not just our health, but our livelihoods as well. Click here to learn more about chemical dependency, and how it can affect your specific situation.