Drug Addiction

Bottles of pills

Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing, and treatable disease. Addiction begins with a conscious choice to use drugs, but addiction is not just "a lot of drug use." Recent scientific research provides overwhelming evidence that not only do drugs interfere with normal brain functioning creating powerful feelings of pleasure, but they also have long-term effects on brain metabolism and activity. At some point, changes occur in the brain that can turn drug abuse into addiction. Those addicted to drugs suffer from a compulsive drug craving and usage and cannot quit by themselves.

Below is a list of behavioral characteristics that may occur with drug addiction. Behavioral characteristics do not always indicate drug addiction but may warrant further investigation.

  • Absenteeism – absences without notification and excessive use of sick days
  • Frequent disappearances from the work site, long unexplained absences, improbable excuses
  • Unreliability in keeping appointments and meeting deadlines
  • Work performance that alternates between periods of high and low productivity
  • Mistakes made due to inattention, poor judgment, and bad decisions
  • Confusion, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating or recalling details and instructions
  • Ordinary tasks require greater effort and consume more time
  • Interpersonal relations with coworkers suffer
  • Progressive deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene
  • Personality change - mood swings, anxiety, depression, lack of impulse control, suicidal thoughts or gestures
  • Increasing personal and professional isolation

Situation and Solution: An employee overcoming addiction was missing a lot of work because of withdrawal symptoms. His employer allowed him the time off without penalty and allotted extra time off to allow the employee time to receive medical treatment. When he returned to work, he was still experiencing a loss of concentration and memory. His employer accommodated him with a reminder clock and written instructions.

Note: Link to AskJAN for more information about Drug Addiction.

Oklahoma WorksOklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, and Oklahoma ABLE Tech have collaborated to provide this information and advice to those seeking accommodation in the workplace.  

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