Being Addicted to Improve Workplace Performance
As the use of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medications proliferated in children, so too has that carried into adulthood, and sometimes with serious consequences. As with almost any drug, there’s always the potential for abuse and when it’s from a prescription drug, human resources needs to walk a fine line while still addressing the issue.
For example, a child is diagnosed with ADHD and is prescribed medicine to help manage it. As that child grows, he or she continues using the medication through grade school and into college because it helps them with their concentration, focus, and alertness. Now as adults, they may feel the need to increase their dosage, or take stronger alternatives to the medicine(s) they were taking.
According to an article on Human Resource Executive Online titled, Alert, Productive -- and Addicted, a growing number of young adults entering the workforce take ADHD medications on a daily basis. That same article references a report last year from St. Louis-based Express Scripts, the nation's largest pharmacy benefit manager, which found that the number of young American adults taking ADHD medications nearly doubled from 2008 to 2012, from 340,000 to 640,000 among those between the ages 26 and 34.
So, you may ask, what’s the problem? If these employees have a valid prescription, and they’re able to accomplish more at work because of it, then there’s no need to step in and have that awkward HR conversation about addiction. While there’s plenty of truth to that, the issue is noticing and protecting a valued employee from abusing that prescription just as they would someone who is abusing a prescription pain killer.
Managers may notice -- and appreciate -- someone who’s a real go-getter. This employee not only takes on more than anyone else, but also completes those projects faster. Initially, this just may be a star employee. However, if that same manager notices that the employee always seems tired, despite being productive, or that the employee is showing other signs of drug addiction, then the manager should bring this to the attention of HR so that they can monitor the situation and verify whether everything is okay.
In fact, companies can be proactive in ensuring the health and well-being of their employees by having wellness discussions about addiction. Just because managers are being asked to do more with less is not an excuse to burn out an employee for short-term results. Addiction, whether to illegal or legal drugs, affects the quality of life of the employee and should be treated.