Substance Use Prevention at Work

Maintaining staff is an issue for nearly every industry. Staff may not always feel safe, connected, appreciated, or happy at work. When staff needs aren’t met, it can contribute to substance use at work to cope. This in turn can contribute to high attrition, low attendance, workplace theft, accidents at work, and other expenses and dangers. 

Investing in workplace wellness is good for employee retention and for your bottom line. It costs an average of $4,000 to hire a new employee. Make the most of that investment for long term business and community success. 

Federal Recommendations

SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) recommends these worksite wellness practices: 

  1. A Written Policy
    A physical document people can refer to and be reminded of that contains all wellness expectations and benefits helps everyone understand the same information consistently.
  2. Employee Education 
    Ensuring that staff know what is expected of them at work, what employee benefits they have access to, and how to take care of their wellness at work and at home, contributes to a culture that is enjoyed by everyone.  
  3. Supervisor Training 
    Sometimes policies, structures, and even employee appreciation programs are created with good intentions, but without the right information. Taking steps to learn about wellness, substance use disorders, and substance use stigma will help an establishment and its staff make informed choices for their own wellbeing and that of their team. 
  4. Workplace Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
    Many people rely on workplace benefits to manage healthcare for themselves and their family. EAPs can help employees with problems at work and at home that affect their job performance. 
  5. Drug Testing
    Drug testing ensures full visibility over substances in a workplace, and comes with its own host of complications and legal boundaries. Testing provides more control of a workplace but can also narrow an employee pool and may not provide insight into the use of legal substances that impair workplace health, such as cannabis, tobacco, or alcohol. 

Tools and Resources

Score Cards and Assessment Tools:

  1. Healthy Us Scorecard
    An easy-to-use, online tool designed to promote healthy living. Employers, Community Organizations, Chambers of Commerce, Public Health Coalitions, and Economic Development Groups are using Healthy Us to create a healthy place to live, work, and play.
  2. CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard:
    Helps employers assess whether they have implemented evidence-based health promotion interventions or strategies in their worksites to prevent heart disease, stroke, and related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. It provides those evidence-based strategies to promote a healthy workforce, increase productivity, and reduce the risk and associated cost of poor employee health.
  3. National Safety Council’s Substance Use at Work Cost Calculator:
    An authoritative, easy-to-use tool providing business leaders with information about the cost of substance use (including prescription drug use and misuse, alcohol use and misuse, opioid and heroin addiction, and use of other illicit drugs and cannabis) in their workplace based on size of employee base, industry, and state.
  4. SAMHSA’s Drug Free Workplace Toolkit:
    Supports workplace health and safety by preventing the misuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, addressing substance misuse within the context of workplace health and wellness programs, and providing intervention services for employees and for their families.

Available Trainings

  1. Responsible Beverage Service Trainings: 
    If a liquor license is a part of your business, consider a training to give your staff skills to protect you from fines and keep your community safe. Contact the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations or your local prevention partner to learn about training options.   
  2. SAMHSA’s Drug Free Workplace Supervisor Training signup:
    Ensure all supervisors understand their specific responsibilities for initiating and carrying out SAMHSA’s drug-free workplace policy and program.
  3. Work Force EAP – trainings, group discussions, services, and more for healthier staff members. 
    Comprehensive employee assistance programming (EAP), training, support, and consultation to contribute to wellness and safety, increase employee engagement, and positively impact your bottom line.

Initiatives and Programs

  1. Connected with Opportunities Initiative:
    A Maine grant focused on workers affected by the opioid crisis. It can provide one-on-one career guidance, employment-based case management, and financial assistance to unemployed individuals impacted by opioid use disorder (personally or as an “affected other”). It can also assist out-of-work individuals who want to enter career fields focused on substance use disorder and recovery.
  2. SAMHSA’s Opioid Prevention @ Work Initiative:
    An interactive guide for employers to identify and prevent opioid and other substance misuse in the workplace.

Other Resources

  1. Department of Labor Model Plans
    Resources to guide to assist employers in compliance with safety and health regulations. 
  2. Department of Labor Substance Use Testing Law:
    The cornerstone of a drug-free workplace is clear drug-testing policy. All workplace drug testing policies must be approved by the Maine Department of Labor. Use this site for more about the process. 
  3. Maine Prevention Store:
    Free print materials and digital downloads designed to improve health and help prevent tobacco use, substance use, and suicide in Maine.
  4. Maine QuitLink:
    Access to phone coaching, online tools, and other resources for anyone looking to stop their tobacco use.
  5. Maine Prevention Network:
    With guidance from the Maine CDC, community partners work to implement evidence-based prevention programming for Substance Use, Tobacco, Obesity, and Youth Engagement and Empowerment.