Author: Jonny Thompson

A lot of the issues surrounding substance abuse and drug addiction remain hidden in the workplace until employees who suffer from these afflictions either self-report them (which is unlikely) or when their lives enter a crisis (Lickerman 2012). Nevertheless, hidden addictions impact both workplace performance as well as the personal lives of people. Ultimately, these issues are better tackled compassionately by companies, to both improve workers’ health as well as prevent personal crises before they occur (Kelly 2017). Employee Assistant Programmes should be effectively implemented to promote worker’s health, alongside improving the functioning of the workplace (NIDA 2018). Overall, there are few known solutions to incorporating and treating addictions in the workplace, so it is important to do more research into potential intervention strategies nationally.

Addiction in the Workplace

One example from the United States which illustrates this was presented by Bob Poznanovich (2006). He was, by most standards, very successful within the corporate world. However, his hidden cocaine addiction ended up costing him his job, fiancée and almost his life. Instead of having a process in which they had meetings with him to work through these problems, meetings were held about him. In the end, this was poorly managed and caused problems for the company, as expecting individuals to tackle their addiction of their own accord is fraught with complications, due to the denial they have about their own problems (Brown 2018).

This story indicates that this can occur at any level of a profession, so that it is not always easy to predict who may be struggling. Unfortunately, as indicators of substance abuse show an increase in dangerous drug use in the Netherlands, particularly of opioids, this will be a more common issue for businesses (Pieters 2018). Therefore, it is necessary to implement more effective measures for tackling this phenomenon both within The Hague, and on a national level. 

Unfortunately, we face the issue that it is generally economic to simply replace those struggling with addiction in the workplace or avoid employing them in the first place, as their personal issues can have a major effect upon their productivity. However, this simply offsets the problem to the wider society, as it worsens any attempt to pursue recovery. Medical professionals have stated that society’s lack of empathy and categorisation of drug addiction as a choice, have made it harder to properly tackle these issues through the public health system (Yin 2018). Similar to other mental health issues, the addict does not choose to exhibit the psychological difficulties they have. Addictions require extensive resources to tackle, but due to these inaccurate perceptions of drug usage, these resources are not extended as they would be for other diseases.


Brown, Kelsey (2018). “Denial: The Primary Roadblock to Addiction Recovery”. Psych Central. At

Kelly, John F (2017). “Working on Addiction in The Workplace”. Harvard Health Blog.

Lickerman, Adam (2012). “The Danger of Keeping Secrets”. Psychology Today. At

NIDA (2018). “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).” National Institute on Drug Abuse. At

Pieters, Janene (2018). “Drug Overdose Deaths Rise in Netherlands; Third Linked to Opiates”. NL Times. At

Poznanovich, Bob (2006). “A Personal Story of Addiction at Work”. Behavioral.Net. At

Yin, Alice (2018). “Health Care Professionals Share Their Stories About Opioid-Addicted Patients”. Nytimes.Com, 2018.

How should Workplaces treat Employees who struggle with Addiction?

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