Addiction and dependence
Dependence and its consequences
The numbers are alarming. In Germany, about 15 million adults aged 18 to 64 have a tobacco addiction, about 3.5 million adults have an alcohol addiction and about 1.9 million adults are addicted to pharmaceuticals. It is important to recognise addiction as a disease that is not of the sufferer’s own choosing. The transition from habitual consumption to dependence is smooth and usually takes place over an extended period of time. The initial positive effects of addictive substance use, such as feelings of pleasure, relaxation and freedom from cares and concerns, gradually wane and make way for abusive consumption. Behavioural changes can be observed in work performance, social behaviour, health and external appearance. The accumulation of individual days of absence, failure to keep appointments, unreliability, strong fluctuations in performance, an increasing willingness to take risks, incomprehensible mood swings, withdrawal and a lack of emotional detachment are all possible indications of substance addiction.
Why is it important to talk about substance use?
It is not an easy task to talk to people close to you who have problematic substance use. One reason for this is that the person concerned usually has no wish to talk about the subject and their habit is generally associated with feelings of shame or denial. It is not the task of managers, colleagues or family members to diagnose addiction. Instead, they can draw attention to changes in behaviour and how this is apparent in the workplace or in private surroundings.
As a manager, how do you address employees who are conspicuous users of addictive substances?
If there is a suspicion that conspicuous behaviour in the workplace might be related to an addiction problem, the manager and the person concerned should discuss the matter together.