Drug and Alcohol Misuse in the Workplace

Nov 2022
Advice, Mental Health, Occupational Health

What employers need to know: Substance abuse in the workplace

With the festive season fast approaching, many expect to eat and drink more than usual. However, for some, the festive season and its stress can cause a concerning spike in substance abuse.

Substance abuse is one of the employers’ most severe and rapidly growing challenges. Any staff member under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a potential danger to themselves and others.

Substance abuse can take hold quickly and can be influenced by several factors, including stress; employers should be mindful of the potential signs of substance abuse.


What are the signs of substance abuse?

As an employer, it is essential to be vigilant to the signs of substance abuse; these can include but are not limited to:

  • Impaired reaction times
  • Lack of memory
  • Limited judgement
  • Unusual irritability or aggression
  • Tendency to become confused
  • Bad time-keeping
  • Greater levels of absence through short-term sickness
  • Worsening relationships with management, colleagues or customers
  • Lowered ability to successfully carry out everyday tasks
  • Sudden mood changes


How can substance abuse affect your business? 

According to “Readers Digest“, Substance abuse accounts for approximately 40% of all industrial accidents; this is a considerable safety concern and directly affects a business’s productivity.

It has been reported by “Safety Pal” that in 2014 it was estimated that accidents caused by drug and alcohol abuse cost the UK around £4 billion; in 2018, this cost had risen to £36 billion, an increase of approximately 800%, strong evidence of a serious and growing issue for employers.


Is substance abuse a problem in all business sectors?

Worryingly substance abuse seems to be a concern for many employers in many industries, “TUC” reports 60% of employers claim they have experienced problems due to staff drinking alcohol and 27% claim drug misuse amongst staff had led to problems.


What can businesses do to reduce the risk?

All employers are responsible for keeping their employees safe, and any staff member working under the influence threatens that safety.

Random alcohol and drugs testing has proven to be one of the most effective methods of reducing substance-related workplace incidents by either:

  • Acting as a deterrent to employees from coming to work under the influence.
  • Allowing employers and businesses to identify employees working under the influence and act accordingly.

According to a study posted in Science Direct, employees who are tested for alcohol and drugs randomly and regularly are less likely to have a workplace accident than those who are not routinely tested.



  • Substance abuse issues can impact any business in any industry.
  • 40% of all industrial accidents are the result of substance abuse.
  • In 2018 accidents caused by substance abuse cost the UK approximately £36 billion per year, up from £4 billion in 2014.
  • 60% of employers claim they have experienced problems due to staff drinking alcohol.
  • 27% of employers declare they have experienced problems due to drug misuse.
  • Random alcohol and drug testing have proven to be one of the most effective methods of reducing substance-related workplace incidents.
  • Employees who are tested regularly for drugs and alcohol are less likely to have an accident than those who aren’t.


We are committed to helping your business run safely and efficiently at Kays Medical. To find out more about how we can help you visit our website:  



If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with drugs or alcohol, please follow the links below for further information and guidance.

NHS (Drug Support):


NHS (Alcohol Support):


Alcoholics Anonymous:


Talk to Frank: