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Addiction in the workplace is a growing concern now that prescription drug misuse is on the rise. While news about prescription painkiller addictions is constantly making the headlines, there is another significant threat to the health and safety of people at work. Unfortunately, prescription stimulant addictions are also common in the workplace, and people who rely on these drugs to get through their day are often in positions where you would never suspect that there is a problem.
In fact, many people with this type of addiction simply think they’re relying on the drug for a quick boost of energy, and it can take years before someone admits they need help. For this reason, you need to be aware and watch for the signs of addiction in yourself or others so everyone benefits from a drug-free work environment.
What are Prescription Stimulants?
You’re most likely familiar with prescription stimulants such as those that are prescribed for people with ADHD. However, they’re also prescribed to help keep people with narcolepsy alert. On the street, prescription stimulants may be referred to as uppers or speed, but you’ll probably hear them referred to by their medical brand name if someone uses them at work.
These stimulants typically come in pill or liquid form, which makes it hard to tell if someone is simply taking their medication as it’s prescribed.
Who Uses Stimulants at Work?
Stimulants are known to increase a person’s energy levels and ability to focus, which is appealing to people in certain professions. For example, a surgeon may be tempted to misuse prescription stimulants in an effort to stay alert as they perform precise procedures. Pilots and truckers may use these drugs to stay awake for longer periods of times.
Often, people begin using stimulants as a way to get through a short time of stressful work, but they end up using it more once they realize how the effects improve their productivity. Unfortunately, any benefits that a person feels in the beginning are offset by the potential dangers that exist when you abuse prescription drugs.
What Constitutes Misuse?
People with prescription drug addictions can often slip under the radar for lengthy periods of time because they appear to be simply taking their medication. However, a person who takes the medication in different ways than it’s prescribed is misusing the drug. Taking someone else’s prescription or using your medication solely for how it makes you feel also constitutes misuse.
What are the Signs of Addiction?
When a person takes prescription stimulants, they often describe feeling a rush of energy. They may also have physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate or faster respiration. As a person comes down from the drug, they may experience a crash or exhibit anger in the workplace.
Once an addiction takes hold, you may notice growing tolerance levels that require the person to take higher doses. You may also find that person spending more money on drugs or doctor shopping to obtain a new prescription. Eventually, the person can experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit using the medications on their own. These symptoms include depression, insomnia, and severe fatigue.
What are the Dangers of Prescription Drug Misuse?
Although doctors commonly prescribe these medications for people with diagnosed health conditions, you can overdose if you take them as they’re not intended. People who misuse prescription stimulants are also at greater risk of developing mental health symptoms such as psychosis, mood swings, and extreme anger. This increases the risk of workplace violence, which makes this an issue that affects everyone.
How Can Someone Get Help?
The good news is that help is available that allows people to work through each stage of recovering from their addiction. The first step is to open up a dialogue that erases the stigma of addiction at work. When a person reaches out for help, they need to know that they’re surrounded by support.
Addiction detox and recovery programs help people learn how to live without prescription stimulants while working through the issues that caused them to misuse drugs in the workplace.
Whether you’re an employee, a manager, or a business owner, your knowledge of prescription stimulant addiction allows you to help keep the workplace safe. Now that you understand more about the growing problem of stimulant abuse, take action by raising awareness about the importance of helping everyone stay sober at work.