Docstoc

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Document Sample
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Powered By Docstoc
					Substance Abuse

Clinicians and researchers commonly divide drug and alcohol consumption into three
levels or stages of use: use, abuse, and dependence. While the use of drugs and alcohol
does not generally rise to the level of an impairment that constitutes a disability, abuse
and dependence do. Drug and alcohol abuse is characterized by intensified, regular,
sporadically heavy, or "binge" use, and dependence is characterized by conpulsive or
addictive use.


Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employers are specifically permitted
to ensure that the workplace is free from the illegal use of drugs and the use of alcohol.
An employer may prohibit the use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace and may require
that employees not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

At the same time, the ADA provides recovering drug addicts and alcoholics some limited
protection from discrimination. However, employees who use drugs or alcohol may be
required to meet the same standards of performance and conduct that employers set for
other employees. Unsatisfactory behaviour such as absenteeism, tardiness, poor job
performance, or accidents caused by alcohol or illegal drug use does not need to be
accepted or accommodated.

Current illegal users of drugs are not "individuals with disabilities" under the ADA, and
thus, the obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation would not exist. However,
individuals addicted to drugs, but who are no longer using drugs illegally and are
receiving treatment for drug addiction or who have been rehabilitated successfully, are
protected by the ADA from discrimination on the basis of past drug addiction.

A person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection simply
because of the alcohol use. An alcoholic is a person with a disability under the ADA, and
may be entitled to some form of accommodation, if they are qualified to perform the
essential functions of the job.

Alcoholism

Currently, nearly 14 million Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. Several million
more adults engage in risky drinking that could lead to alcohol problems.

Alcoholism, also called "alcohol dependence," is a disease that includes four symptons:
 craving - a strong need or compultion to drink;
 loss of control - the inability to limit one's drinking on any given occasion;
 physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness,
   and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking;
 tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to "get high".
(National Institute of Health, 2001)
Alcoholism is characterized by preoccupation with alcohol, and distortions in thinking,
most notably denial. Alcohol abuse is a pattern of problem drinking that causes health
problems, social problems, or both. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC), alcoholism is an impairment, and, therefore, people with
alcoholism who are substantially limited in a major life activity will have a disability
under the Americans With Disabilities Act. However, individuals with current alcohol
related disabilities, like any other individual with a current disability, must be able to
perform the essential functions of the job to be protected against discrimination. At the
same time, even if a person with alcoholism meets the definition of disability, an
employer can discipline, discharge, or deny employment to an alcoholic whose current
use of alcohol negatively affects job performance, or conduct to the extent that s/he is no
longer a "qualified individual with a disability".

Accommodation solutions

The workforce includes many individuals with some form and degree of alcoholism who,
with the appropriate accommodations, can be both successful and productive on the job.
Accommodations will not always be necessary, nor will they always be effective. As
with all employees, employers need to assess the qualifications and performance of
workers who are alcoholic on an individual basis, and accommodations need to be made
on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration each employee's individual limitations
and accommodation needs. Workplaces and jobs vary, and so do people with disabilities,
And as usual, the person with the disability will generally be our best resource for
identifying potential barriers and the accommodations that eliminate them.

Accommodations for individuals in recovery from an alcohol problem will vary
depending upon the requirements of the job and the individual's length of time in
recovery. For example, individuals who have recently completed a rehabilitation
program may need to participate in a structured, outpatient continuing care program on a
regular basis. Others who have been sober for a long time may participate in self-help
groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, in order to prevent relapse. Involvement in this
kind of continuing care may require some accommodation.

Examples of accommodations to deal with attendance issues include:
* Allowing use of paid or unpaid leave for medical treatment. For individuals with
current alcohol impairments who are able to perform their job effectively and safely,
employers are required to consider providing unpaid leave to permit that individual to
attend an in-patient treatment program. In addition, if the employer provides paid leave
to individuals who are obtaining medical treatment for a disability, s/he must provide the
same benefit to an individual who is obtaining treatment for an alcohol problem.
 Allowing use of paid or unpaid leave or flexible scheduling for counseling.

Examples of accommodations to assist with maintaining concentration include:
 Reducing distractions in the workplace.
 Providing space enclosures or a private office.
 Allowing for frequent breaks.
   Dividing large assignments into smaller tasks and steps.

Examples of accommodations to assist with staying organized and meeting deadlines
include:
 Providing clerical support.
 Making a daily to-do list.
 Scheduling weekly metings with supervisor to determine goals and address the
    employee's questions, concerns, and work progress.
 Establishing clear expectations of the employee's responsibilities and the
    consequences of not meeting them.
 Establishing written long term and short term goals.

Examples of accommodations to assist with handling stress include:
 Providing praise and positive reinforcement.
 Referring the employee to counseling and employee assistance programs.
 Not mandating job-related social functions where there would be exposure to alcohol.
 Encouraging the employee to use company sponsored health programs.

Issues employers should consider when beginning to explore the accommodation process
include:

1) What limitations is the employee with alcoholism experiencing?

2) How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee's job performance?

3) What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?

Drug Abuse

Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing, and treatable disease. Addiction begins with a
conscious choice to use drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 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 simple drug abuse into an addiction. Individuals addicted to drugs suffer
from a compulsive drug craving and useage and cannot quit by themselves.

A variety of approaches are used in treatment programs to help individuals deal with
cravings and possibly avoid drug relapse. Through treatment that is tailored to individual
needs, individuals can learn to control their condition and live realtively normal lives.

Some of the behavioural characteristics that may occur on the job, with drug addiction,
include:
 absences without notification and an excessive use of sick days;
 frequent disappearances from the work site, long unexplained absences, and
    improbable excuses;
   work performance that alternates between periods of high and low productivity;
   unreliability in keeping appointments and meeting deadlines;
   confusion, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating or recalling details and
    instructions;
   progressive deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene;
   a tendency to wear long sleeves when it is inappropriate to do so;
   increasing personal and professional isolation.

It is important to understand that these behavioral characteristics do not always indicate
drug addiction, but they may indicate the need for further investigation by employers.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, current illegal users of
drugs are not "individuals with disabilities" under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
However, individuals addicted to drugs, but who are no longer using drugs illegally, and
are receiving treatment for drug addiction or who have been rehabilitated successfully,
have protections under the ADA from discrimination based on their past history of drug
addiction. Only individuals, who are addicted to drugs, have a history of addiction, or
who are regarded as being addicted have an impairment under the Americans with
Disabilities Act. In order for an individual's drug use to be considered a disability, it
must pose a substantial limitation on one or more major life activities.

Defining Illegal Drug Use

The illegal use of drugs includes the use, possession, or distribution of drugs that are
unlawful under the Controlled Substances Act. It also includes the illegal use of
prescription drugs that are "controlled substances". The illegal use of drugs does not
include drugs that are taken under the supervision of a licensed health care professional.
This includes experimental drugs for individuals with AIDS, epilepsy, or mental illness.

Current drug use means that the illegal use of drugs occurred recently enough to justify
an employer's reasonable belief that the individual's use of drugs is an on-going problem.
The problem is not limited to the day of use, or to recent weeks or days, in terms of being
able to take an employment action. Whether or not to take action must be determined on
a case-by-case basis.

Accommodation solutions

The workforce includes many individuals with some form and degree of drug addiction
who, with the appropriate accommodations, can be both successful and productive on the
job. Accommodations will not always be necessary, nor will they always be effective.
As with all employees, employers need to assess the qualifications and performance of
workers with drug addiction on an individual basis, and accommodations need to be
made on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration each employee's individual
limitations and accommodation needs. Workplaces and jobs vary, and so do people with
disabilities, And as usual, the person with the disability will generally be our best
resource for identifying potential barriers and the accommodations that eliminate them.
Accommodations for individuals in recovery from a drug problem will vary depending
upon the requirements of the job and the length of time the individual has been in
recovery. As with alcoholics, drug addicts who have recently completed a rehabilitation
program may need to participate in a structured, outpatient continuing care program on a
regular basis. Others who have been drug-free for a long time may still need to
participate in self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, in order to prevent a
relapse. Participating in such continuing care may require some form of accommodation.

Examples of accommodations to help facilitate treatment needs include:
 Allow the use of paid or unpaid leave for inpatient medical treatment.
 Allowing use of paid or unpaid leave or a flexible work schedule for counseling or to
   attend support meetings.

Examples of accommodations to assist with handling stress include:
 Providing praise and positive reinforcement.
 Refering to counseling and employee assistance programs.
 Allowing frequent work breaks.
 Reassignment to a less stressful job.
 Allowing for a flexible work schedule and flexible use of leave time.

Examples of accommodations to assist with maintaining concentration include:
 Providing space enclosures or a private office.
 Developing a plan for uninterrupted work time.
 Dividing large assignments into smaller tasks and steps.
 Restructuring the job to include only the essential functions.

Issues employers should consider when beginning to explore the accommodation process
include:
1) What limitations is the employee with drug addiction experiencing?

2) How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee's job performance?

3) What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?

Additional Resources

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a service of the Office of Disability
Employment Policy of the US Department of Labor. JAN's mission is to facilitate the
employment and retention of workers with disabilities by providing employers,
employment providers, and people with disabilities with information on job
accommodations. JAN represents the most comprehensive resource for job
accommodations available.

Click here http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/alco.htm to get accommodation and resource
information on alcoholism.
Click here http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/drug.htm to get accommodation and resource
information on drug abuse.

The Job Accommodation Network's Searchable Online Accommodation Resource
(SOAR) system is designed to assist users in exploring various accommodation options
for people with disabilities in work settings. These accommodation ideas are not all
inclusive, however. The SOAR system allows the user to search by disability to get
information on corresponding limitations, job functions, and accommodations.

Click here http://www.jan.wvu.edu/soar/disabilities.html to begin your accommodation
resource search.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Title I Technical Assistance
Manual provides technical assistance to help employers, other covered entities, and
persons with disabilities learn about their obligations and rights under the employment
provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Click here http://www.jan.wvu.edu/links/ADAtam1.html#VIII to go to the manual
section on Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

The School of Industrial and Labor Relations Program on Employment and Disability, at
Cornell University, serves as the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for
economic research on employment policy for persons with disabilities. In that capacity
they have developed several informational brochures on working effectively with people
with various kinds of disabilities.

Click here http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/extension/files/download/Alcohol.txt to download
their brochure on Employing and Accommodating Individuals with Histories of Alcohol
or Drug Abuse.

				
DOCUMENT INFO