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  • Janice Janssen, RDH, CFE

Raising Awareness for Addiction in the Workplace


Are alcohol or drug addiction problems among your team members entering your practice? Since Covid reared its ugly head we have seen more and more addiction in our country. Is it affecting anyone on your team? Statistics would say that it is.


It is a sad reality that is occurring in many workplaces. The time has come to raise awareness to this epidemic so we can recognize the problem and help those in need get the assistance they require.


There are many resources for individuals to get a handle on their addiction if they are ready to do so. It is not an easy task but many people have done it so if you need help or know someone who does…please get the help. Here are a couple of resources for help if needed:

  • SAMHSA.gov is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Their number is 1-800-662-HELP

  • AmericanAddictionCenters.org has many resources across the country

  • A quick google search can point you in the right direction for your area


Unfortunately, addiction can cause a number of problems in your practice so it is important to get a handle on things before any difficulties occur. We want to help the employee if possible, but you have to protect your practice, the patients and the other employees as well. Watching and understanding some of the signs and symptoms will help you along the way.


Here are some actions to keep an eye on:

  • Erratic behavior - maybe talking too loud or not engaging with patients in a friendly manner

  • Punctuality or attendance has become an issue

  • Coming into work hungover on a regular basis

  • Observed signs of substance abuse, may include stumbling or slurring of words

  • Employee has become disinterested in working or their fellow teammates


What do you do about it?

  • Ensure you have a drug and alcohol policy in your employee manual stating that the practice is a drug free workplace and that testing and termination can occur if there is suspicion of drug or alcohol use in the office. The company you utilize for your employee manual can help you with the verbiage for your policy.

  • Talk to anyone you see that is not behaving the same as they have in the past and address the situation. You should never accuse anyone, but it is important to have conversations with your employees.

  • Encourage the team member to get help from a professional. They should be speaking to their doctor or a mental health professional to get the assistance needed.

  • Document the conversation and include in the team member’s employment file


You do not want to delve too far into a person’s mental status but you do need to monitor your employees on-the-job conduct. Many people do not want to admit there is a problem or that they need help. This is normal. It is largely due to embarrassment or feeling they can control it without help.


Your employees need to know they can reach out to you in confidence and without any judgment. Keep the lines of communication open and help them by supporting healthy living habits.

 

Janice Janssen, RDH, CFE, Consultant


At age 14, Janice Janssen got an after-school job working for her dentist. Twenty-something years later, she is the co-founder of Global Team Solutions and an expert in practice consulting. Besides hands-on experience, Janice has gained professional recognition for her hard work and commitment to excellence. She is co-author of OMG! Office Management Guide, the “bible” used in GTS training workshops. She is a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants (ADMC), and is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), which positions her as an expert in educating dentists to deter fraud and embezzlement in their practice.

Janice can be reached at: janice@gtsgurus.com

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