Health and wellness encompass more than just nutrition and exercise. As a nurse staffing agency, AHCS is well-acquainted with the many components that go into nurturing a healthy body and mind. In a society that is extremely vulnerable to stress and mental illness due to an inflated economy, plus a lack of support, resources, and understanding – substance abuse is more prevalent than ever before. The stigma associated with substance abuse only fans the flames of addiction (and the shame it carries), and many of those who suffer, often suffer in silence. In fact, there are many working professionals who self-medicate with alcohol and drugs because it might seem easier than seeking out support, and their substance abuse can go completely unnoticed by coworkers and loved ones. As a society, we must do better and give the same attention and care to substance abuse that we would any other mental illness – because at the end of the day, addiction is as valid as depression, anxiety or any other psychological disorder. And often, it is born from or triggered by one or more of these conditions.

In the workplace, it’s important to recognize the signs of substance abuse, and educate employees on how to address these issues within their own lives or the lives of their coworkers and/or loved ones. After all, destigmatizing seemingly taboo issues is how we move forward and address these struggles without causing more harm and attaching more shame to an already highly sensitive topic.

Let’s dig in…

The first step in addressing substance abuse is breaking down what it really means, and the various ways it might present in and affect people. This is done through judgement-free examination and education. Substance abuse affects a wide range of people across differing scenarios – simply put, it doesn’t just look one way, so do not make assumptions. Many people have a certain idea in their minds when they think of substance abuse and addiction, and it is typically a narrowminded and incomplete (or downright incorrect) picture. It’s important not to stereotype when talking about substance abuse, as the problem itself does not discriminate. It can affect financially successful individuals, stay-at-home-parents, healthcare professionals, young adults and more.

Another important step is to get yourself as well as your teams familiar with substance abuse programs and resources. This can be a safe and discreet way to offer support options to those who might be struggling behind closed doors. Additionally, many people aren’t aware of all the resources that are potentially available to them.

Observe and address signs of work and other stress in employees, and foster an open door policy in terms of health and wellbeing – both physical and mental. If staff members feel comfortable opening up about potential substance abuse triggers such as burnout, anxiety, depression, etc., you might very well prevent someone from going down that road.

Finally, reiterate to your teams that although the workplace is a professional place, we are all human and we all struggle from time to time. There is no judgement or shame in that, and we must all give ourselves permission to seek help when it is needed – this reminder alone has the power to save a life.

From all of us at AHCS, thank you for reading – our wish is that everyone does their part in making progress and promoting positive change, both in and out of the workplace.

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