Ken Ackerman, Skip Pettit, and I have written and taught about drug addiction and substance abuse for several years. Ken's take has generally been dispassionate, and focused onworkaday workplace issues. Skip is often more empathetic, dealing with the human toll and consequences involved. I find myself straddling both worlds on most days.
Look, the human impact is staggering. Entire affluent communities have been co-opted by addiction and deaths by OD. And, those are merely the tip of the suburban iceberg. Poorer cities and towns, plagued by economic decline and in decay with the loss of key industries and corporations, are hotbeds of addiction and sinkholes of extreme medical countermeasures - often several times weekly by the same users.
Lives swing like pendulums between addiction and rescue, between rehabilitation and punishment. Death is all too often a neighbor on the same block, and professionals are vulnerable to the same cycles of gateway substances and descent into 9th circles of Hell as are the deranged and disturbed.
More than ever, workplace vigilance is a basic managerial responsibility. If you, whether in SCM or in general business, employ 10 or more people, at least one is an active addict. Not simply a recreational weed smoker, but a classified controlled substance addict - hooked, with impaired judgement on a good day, and dangerous behavior on a bad one. Half the people who show up to try to get a job are addicts - hard-core, not just occasional recreational users.
Wishing addiction away doesn't work. Pretending it doesn't exist is a pervese form of denial. Punishment is spectacularly unsuccessful in the jail/prison systems; rehabilitation no matter the expense is pointless until the addict bottoms out. In short, we cannot afford, financially or operationally, to ignore the reality of addiction and its impacts.
There are many forms of addiction: alcohol, prescription medications, controlled substances, gambling, smoking, pornography, and other compulsive behaviors. Alcohol, meds, and substances are those that most affect businesses, distribution, and customers. As leaders or managers, we have responsibilities to maintain a safe workplace. And, recognize that a big majority of workers are not addicted, and would prefer to not work withthose who do.
There are three levels of substance abuse: One, those who show up impaired, presenting a danger to colleagues; two, those who bring in substances for workplace consumption, another level of danger; three, those who bring in quantities destined for sale (a secondary marketplace) to co-workers, a breakdown in law and order as well as in facility operations.
We can't realistically micro-manage employee activities and personal lives. Neither can we, as non-medical professionals, determine substance abuse from visual cues. We can force the issue of medical diagnostics, though, within management rights.
Some behaviors, by the way, can divert attention from vital job tasks, and attention must be paid to pornography, child porn, gambling. There is lower than ever tolerance for health issues, e.g., smoking, obesity.
The enterprise's moral responsibility? Offer wellness and support programs. Communicate corporate willingness to offer support and correction. Set approprite policies. Arrange for relevant testing - scheduled and random. Provide training and education.
And, finally, make sure everyone knows that you, personally, care about their well-being and how issues are handled.