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Why Employers Must Recognise Drugs Addiction Is A Disease, Not A Choice

Why Employers Must Recognise Drugs Addiction Is A Disease, Not A Choice

Why Employers Must Recognise Drugs Addiction Is A Disease, Not A Choice

When an employer is confronted with the reality that one of their employees is a drug addict and must enter a drug rehab program, there are several views they may take on that scenario and they cover a wide scale of opinions.

At one extreme will be employers who say the employee is a criminal, that drug addicts have no place in their business, and that anyone who chooses to take drugs is to be fired. At the other end of the scale are employers completely sympathetic to their employee’s predicament, who may have experience of a loved one recovering from drug addiction and who even offer to finance their employee’s recovery.

As you read both of those viewpoints, which do you lean towards? The answer is crucially important if you are an employer and speaks to whether you believe drug addiction is a choice, a crime, and punishment is the answer, or that drug addiction is a medical condition that needs treatment.

Ultimately, how you run your business and your terms and conditions relating to drug addiction within your workforce is a matter for you. However, we ask you to pause for a second and understand one thing. It has been proven by countless medical studies of those addicted to drugs that their drug addiction is a disease rather than a lifestyle choice.

As such, an employer finding out one of their employees has a drug addiction must appreciate that that disease is not something that an individual decided to have. They did not once say,  “You know what, I’m choosing to become addicted to drugs and all the misery and turmoil it is going to create in my life”

They are no more likely to say that than are to say “You know what I choose to suffer from XXXX” where XXXX represents any medical condition you care to add such as migraines, epilepsy, dementia, or Parkinson’s, all of which are associated with the brain or the mind, as is drug addiction.

Drug addiction is known to be partly caused by changes in the brain’s chemical balance when it releases dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that, when released, creates good, happy, positive feelings within the individual. Normal dopamine levels are produced by eating, having fun, meeting friends and family, for example. However, excessive levels of dopamine are released leading to the ‘highs’ many drug addicts talk about.

Unfortunately, the medical community have not yet discovered what would make one person more likely to become a drug addict than any other, nor why someone taking drugs on a few occasion does not become addicted, whereas the next person will. Some studies suggest it can be genetics that tips the balance one way or the other, and that social environments can also influence this.

One thing is clear though, classing drug addiction as a free choice made by one of your employees is not right. Drug addiction is a medical conation, worthy of the same concern and support as any other medical condition. Employers who support employees going through drug programs can consider themselves be on the right side of the moral argument.

In addition, the positive outcome of an employee being helped to free themselves of drug addiction can lead to them being so grateful that you stood by them, and held their employment open for them, that they are certain to give their all for your business and remain loyal to it, thereafter.