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Companies alarmed: When consumption becomes addiction

Companies alarmed: When consumption becomes addiction

Whether alcohol and tobacco, illegal intoxicants and medications, or gambling and eating disorders - addiction has many faces and all too often goes unrecognized. Yet one in ten employees in Germany has to contend with addiction problems. The precarious thing is that addictive disorders can be found in all sectors and social classes. They must be understood as a chronic disease that develops from the risky consumption of addictive substances. There are hardly any reliable figures on the extent of addiction problems in the workplace - the dark field is considered to be enormous. 

But one thing is undisputed: Alcohol as a popular drug is and remains the sad front-runner. Around 1.6 million people in Germany are addicted to alcohol. In the working world, even the youngest are at risk: Almost one in five trainees already drinks alcohol to a risky extent - as do a total of 6.7 million people in Germany. Risky alcohol consumption not only lays the foundation for a possible addictive disease, but can also lead to considerable impairments in the workplace.

Sobering: More absences and accidents at work, less productivity

Overall, the economic damage caused by alcohol consumption is estimated at a whopping 57 billion euros. No wonder, since alcoholic employees are absent from work two to four times more often than the average workforce. One in three workplace accidents is also attributable to alcohol or drug abuse. At the same time, the motivation and performance, and thus the productivity, of alcoholic employees decreases considerably. This is why companies need to take preventive action: With the help of a comprehensive prevention concept, employees can be made aware and educated about the dangers of alcohol and other addictive substances. 

At the same time, managers need to be trained in dealing with addiction in the work environment and constructive support and counseling services need to be developed for those affected. In general, a distinction is made between behavioural and relationship-oriented prevention measures. On the one hand, factors that promote consumption, such as stress or mobbing, must be eliminated; on the other hand, the availability of addictive substances in the work environment must be reduced.

Relationship- and behaviour-oriented prevention measures and comprehensive training courses

While addiction prevention is usually a component of occupational health management in larger companies, corresponding measures are rather rare in small and medium-sized enterprises. However, the employer's interest is anything but self-interest, but part of the legal obligation: According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer is obligated to prevent and reduce health hazards in the workplace. The commitment of managers is particularly important in this regard and should be encouraged through appropriate training. Professional training and overarching awareness campaigns thus become an important component of the company's addiction prevention program.

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