Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse

Person with glass of alcohol and pills on table

Substance use disorder is a pattern of behaviors that range from misuse to abuse or dependency, whether it is alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs.  Substance use disorder can result in significant emotional, physical, financial and legal consequences.

Signs of a Substance Use Disorder

  • Using a substance more or longer than intended
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop using the substance, or tried to, but couldn’t         
  • Spending a lot of time using a substance, or  being sick or getting over the aftereffects    
  • Experiencing  cravings — a strong need, or urge, to use the substance    
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or work    
  • Continuing to use the substance even though it was causing relationship trouble    
  • Giving up on activities that were important to you in order to use the substance   
  • Getting into situations while or after using the substance that increased your chances of getting hurt
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (e.g., anxiety, irritability, nausea/vomiting) after stopping use

Alcohol Use

Low Risk for Developing an Alcohol Use Disorder:
As defined by National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, (NIAAA):

  • For women, low-risk drinking is no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week.
  • For men, it is defined as no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week.   
  • For people age 65 and older, consume no more than 1 standard drink per day or 7 standard drinks per week. 
  • Even within these limits, you can have problems if you drink too quickly or have other health issues.

Binge Drinking:

  • A pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused category of drugs, following alcohol and marijuana.  Some prescription drugs can become addictive, especially when used in a manner inconsistent with their labeling, by someone other than for whom they were prescribed, or when taken in a dosage other than prescribed.  The prescription drug medications that are most commonly abused include:

  • Pain relievers
  • Tranquilizers and sedatives       
  • Stimulants

Assistance for Lab Employees and/or Dependent Family Members

  • The EAP is available to evaluate, refer and support employee members or their dependents who are seeking assistance for an alcohol and/or other substance use problems.
  • Your health insurance benefits provide some level of coverage for substance abuse treatment, and can be accessed directly without contacting the EAP.
  • Off-site resources

Management Consultation Services Regarding Alcohol and other Substance Abuse Issues in the Workplace

EAP psychologists are available to consult with and assist managers when dealing with employee problems which may be related to substance use issues.  Staff psychologists can assist managers by discussing the situation.  Management consultations with the EAP are confidential, at no charge, and do not obligate the manager to refer the employee to the EAP. The consultations are available to coach and assist managers on how to approach these sensitive matters.