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Drugs & Alcohol

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. Almost 20 million adults suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs) each year. In Canada, this figure is six million, or 21 percent of the population. Further, over 100,000 drug overdose deaths occur in the U.S. annually, with over 75,000 of those from opioids. Around 7,000 opioid overdose deaths occur in Canada annually.

Impact of Drugs and Alcohol

Misusing and abusing drugs or alcohol can lead to a variety of adverse health outcomes and other serious problems. These can range from interpersonal problems such as strained relationships with coworkers and family members to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, liver disease and certain cancers. In addition, substance misuse and abuse can contribute to poor mental health, learning and memory problems. Substance misuse is also associated with higher rates of absenteeism, presenteeism and accidents on the job.

Addressing Drug and Alcohol Abuse

LIUNA’s signatory employers expect workers to be “fit for duty.” That includes being free of drugs and alcohol and their side effects. Drug-free workplace programs, which can include drug testing and employee and supervisor education, can help employers keep jobsites safe. When a substance use problem does arise, an employer might be the first to recognize it and has the opportunity to intervene on the employee’s behalf. Employers and supervisors should learn to identify the warning signs of SUD and how to responsibly address the problem, which can include one-on-one consultation and referral to available resources like an Employee Assistance Program.

Fund Resources & Services
  • Use the Recent Articles or All Related Articles tabs above to view Lifelines articles on this topic or browse our Drugs and Alcohol publications.
  • The Health Promotion (HP) Division assists LIUNA signatory employers with the development and implementation of drug-free workplace policies and programs. These programs are often required to bid on certain projects, are often included in collective bargaining agreements and can be part of a comprehensive health and safety program. The HP Division can assist in the following ways:
    • Review collective bargaining agreements and other drug-free workplace policy and program language to ensure compliance with federal or state regulations.
    • Develop and provide employee and supervisor training.
    • Assist with implementation of an Employee Assistance Program.
    • Ensure both labor and management are aware of assistance and rehabilitation resources in the event someone tests positive on a drug test or comes forward seeking assistance with a drug or alcohol use disorder.

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