Substance-Abuse Intervention Works Best When the Boss Steps In: Study

A new study reveals supervisors must go past detection and aid in enforcement of substance-abuse policies to deter use of alcohol and drugs on the job. The study from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions found that supervisor contact-detecting a substance-abuse problem through normal interaction with an employee-has little effect on employee alcohol or drug use. However, supervisor enforcement, or “the ability of supervisors to identify employee substance-use problems as well as their willingness to address employee substance-use problems,” can be a potent combination leading to decreases in drinking and drug use on the job. Thus, the keys to successful supervisor enforcement are knowing what to look for and knowing what to do when you see it. A national survey found that only 22% of human resources professionals said their company was proactively dealing with substance abuse; a low number for an issue that is costing U.S. businesses more than $110 billion a year.

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