Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Catholic Defender: Substance Abuse

According to the American Council for Drug Education’s facts for Employees:
“More than 70 percent of substance abusers hold jobs; one worker in four, ages 18 to 34, used drugs in the past year; and one worker in three knows of drug sales in the workplace. Americans consume 60 percent of the world’s production of illegal drugs: 23 million use marijuana at least four times a week; 18 million abuse alcohol; 6 million regularly use cocaine; and 2 million use heroin. In the workplace, the problems of these substance abusers become your problems. They increased risk of accident, lower productivity, raise insurance costs, and reduce profits. They can cost you your job; they can cost you your life.”

The cost of these addictions runs up into the billions of dollars annually. The cost of medical bills skyrocket and insurance premiums continue to soar. Health care costs are causing a huge drain on the American taxpayers.

Illegal immigrants and accidents caused by alcohol and drug abuse pay a tremendous toll on our families.

I remember the commercials showing a party of children playing and at the end of the scene, it is reported that a major character was killed by a drunk driver.

Because of the tragedies associated with alcohol and drug abuse, American business continues to lose man hours.

In the Army, alcohol is associated with about 90% of the family domestic abuse causing the loss of productive man power.

This becomes a command focus as families have to resolve these issues at the Army’s expense. Obviously, alcohol and drug abuse can also affect business outside the Military.

What is Substance Abuse?

People dependent on drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or crack who have become addicted to the point that getting through the day they have to have a “shot” just to get through the day—are clearly substance abusers.

One of the biggest problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse is denial.

This is much more than physical or psychological dependency. This can range from the “weekend binges” to those who abuse prescription drugs.

My wife currently works as a Head Nurse over a local “Wounded Warrior Project” at a local Military installation.

She continually aids those who are addicted to prescription drugs. These addictions affect the mental health and stability of the families concerned causing many hardships.

My wife works with these individuals keeping a close eye on their intake of medication prescribed by the doctors. Her success is being watched throughout the Army medical system.

The prevention of suicide becomes another added concern for the health care/business world industry.

Does it Threaten Jobs?

Substance abusers are ten times more likely to miss work and four times more likely to be involved in “on-the-job” accidents which certainly have a negative impact on the work- place.

As a Senior Noncommissioned Officer for several years, it was one of my duties to handle these problems in the unit.

For every issue of abuse, there are literally hundreds of work hours that affect the Command.

The counseling, the work hours involved, the time spend ensuring that the Soldier does not hurt themselves runs into the thousands of dollars. The work load among workers is much higher when you have substance abuse among the ranks.

The mission must be accomplished despite problems associated with substance abuse.
This can affect moral in a huge way.

Outside the Military, for civilian business, substance abusers will be nearly five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim.

Operating heavy machinery from tanks to trucks under the influence of substance abuse enhances the danger around everyone involved.

It is estimated that nearly 40% of all industrial fatalities are the result of having substance abuse involved. Having a drug free climate greatly reduces the risk of accidents.

What are the Signs of Abuse?

Substance abusers in the workplace can be difficult to identify. In the Army we have a “watch your buddy” policy which helps identify abuse.

Corporate education from the top down can effectively prevent these problems by identifying signs and symptoms of substance abuse.

Here are some clues that signal possible drug and alcohol problems.

1. Frequent, prolonged, and often unexplained absences,
2. Involvement in accidents both on and off the job
3. Erratic work patterns and reduced productivity
4. Indifference to personal hygiene
5. Overreaction to real or imagined criticism
6. Such overt physical signs as exhaustion or hyperactivity, dilated pupils, slurred speech, or an unsteady walk

Preventive measures can radically improve the work place as well as renew families. It is important to understand that substance abuse can happen to anyone from every cultural, ethnic, religious background. It is important to know those you work with and understand dramatic changes in their work habits.

This is an issue that transcends all backgrounds. It is important for Christians as well. Pope Benedict responded favorably to the Dutch Government saying:

"While recognizing with humility that her own members do not always live up to the high moral standards that she proposes, the church cannot do other than continue to urge all people -- her own members included -- to seek to do whatever is in accordance with justice and right reason and to oppose whatever is contrary," the pope said.

Pope Benedict said he was "encouraged by the steps that the Dutch government has taken to discourage drug abuse and prostitution."

Substance abuse and its addictions are another form of bondage.

The Scripture teaches that our own bodies house the Holy Spirit, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body," (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

If you can understand the Catholic teaching on this issue, you can see this as a guard rail. These addictions have been responsible for nearly 90% of all domestic abuse, child abuse, violence in the family.

God offers deliverance to those enslaved by these addictions.

You do not have to live as a refugee, but you can be totally renewed and your life restored.

Pope Benedict said he was "

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