In this video, we’re going to review the signs and symptoms of a substance abuse and the proper steps you can take if you, or one of your coworkers, is suffering.
Defining Substance Abuse
So, what is substance abuse? Substance abuse is defined as a pattern of harmful use of any substance for mood-altering purposes. These substances include alcohol, drugs as well as some substances that are not classified as drugs at all. Those suffering from substance abuse often endure physical and mental complications and can experience a false sense of euphoria or well-being. Most substance abuse often starts as a recreational habit or a medically prescribed drug that quickly turns into a harmful addiction leading to physical and/or mental disease.
Types of Drugs and Effects
According to the Addiction Center of America, there are thousands of different drugs, legal and illegal, widely available in the marketplace today. It’s important to note that although legal, they can negatively impact your mind and body. People under the influence of drugs or alcohol often neglect basic health needs, which can lead to increased absence, decreased work performance, and increased workplace injuries.
Alcohol is a widely abused substance across most of the world, including in the United States. Legal to some extent in all 50 states, alcohol impacts numerous body systems, which in turn causes numerous effects in users. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning it creates a feeling of relaxation, tiredness, and euphoria, as well as impairs judgment, perception, and reaction times. Over time, chronic alcohol consumption, which is an average of 3 servings per day, may result in liver disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, heart and vascular system conditions, brain damage, and an increased risk of cancer.
Opioids, also known as opiates, are derived from the drug opium or chemicals designed to mimic it. Opioids work by interacting with the brain’s neurotransmitters by blocking certain signals to help alleviate pain. They can also cause feelings of intense pleasure which is what often lead users to addiction. Opioid addiction is a serious problem here in the U.S., as they are some of the most addictive of all known substances and are also some of the deadliest. Some of the most well-known opioids include Heroin, Fentanyl, and Oxycodone.
Benzodiazepines, also known as Benzos, are a class of drugs that function by interacting with certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Different Benzos interact with different neurotransmitters, impacting the body and mind differently. Benzos are often prescribed to treat a wide variety of psychiatric and sleep conditions, but they can quickly become commonly abused. Benzos are highly addictive and can cause numerous medical and psychiatric problems when not used as intended. Examples of benzos include Ativan, Valium, and Xanax.
Cannabinoids are a class of drugs that are chemically similar to THC, the active agent found in marijuana. Cannabinoids create a feeling of elation, known as a high, but they also negatively impact mental and physical functioning. Cannabinoids are the most widely abused drugs after alcohol, and they are increasingly gaining legal acceptance. Although considered less addictive than other drug classifications, cannabinoids can seriously damage a person’s mental and physical health.
Service Sanitation Drug and Alcohol Standards
Service Sanitation’s drug and alcohol policy states that the following are a violation to the standards of conduct. This includes reporting to work while under the influence of: intoxicating beverages, controlled substances, or medications (prescribed or over the counter) that may lead to drowsiness or have other side effects that may pose a safety problem.
Attempting to work while under the influence is not only dangerous to you, but to those around you. Never attempt to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, operate equipment, or use a tool while under the influence as it could lead to serious injury, a loss of your license, a loss of employment, or even worse a loss of life.
Possession, consumption, transmittal, receipt, distribution, dispensing, or use of any controlled substances and paraphernalia is 100% prohibited. Any employee prescribed a narcotic must allow a 24 hour period for this drug to pass from there last dose before returning to work.
It’s important that you ALWAYS notify a member of our compliance or human resource team if you’re taking medications (prescribed or over the counter) on a regular basis. This information should be regularly indexed and updated in your medical file should an emergency arise.
Failure to comply with the Service Sanitation Drug and Alcohol policy will result in discipline, up to and including discharge. If you have any additional questions regarding this policy or would like to receive a copy of it, please contact your manager.
It’s important to note that Service Sanitation and the Department of Transportation require regular drug and alcohol tests to those who are seeking employment here, anyone with a reasonable suspicion, anyone involved in an accident or incident, anyone returning to duty, and randomly selected employees periodically throughout the year.
Refusal to take a required test, or failure to receive a clear negative result will be considered a failed test and your employment here will be terminated. Employees who fail a drug or alcohol test will be required to complete a DOT approved Substance Abuse Program to be eligible for reemployment. Employees who are requesting help for a drug or alcohol problem prior to an announced test, will be required to complete, and pay, for a DOT approved Substance Abuse Program before returning to work.
All DOT driver failed drug or alcohol test are recorded within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Clearinghouse. This is a new national database as of 2020 that stores violations for at least 5 years, or until the employee has completed a Substance Abuse Program including a series of comprehensive follow-up tests at the employees’ expense.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember the risks associated with abusing drugs and alcohol. What may seem like a one-time thing can quickly become life-altering. If you or someone you know is battling with addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our human resource team.