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Addictions in the workplace – how to tackle them

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Although some managers, senior managers and HR departments feel that addictions are a private matter, many companies have a problem with employees with addictions but don’t know how to handle them. Alcohol and drugs are the cause of 20 to 30% of occupational accidents and cost businesses an average of 1.5% of their annual payroll costs[1].


Consumption vs addiction


Let’s think about alcohol consumption, and especially the consumption of wine, a well-known part of French culture. Despite the Evin Act (1991), more than 86% of the French population (in the 15-75 age range) consumed alcohol at a rate of 5.5 glasses a week in 2014[2].

As for drugs, cannabis is the most widely consumed illegal drug. 66 million kilos of cannabis are consumed annually worldwide. For many years, Europe has been one of the largest global markets. In France, 32.8% of adults and 41.5% of 17-year-olds had tried cannabis in 2011.


Psychotropic drugs: figures that betray the reality in France


France consumes more psychotropic drugs (antidepressants, sleeping pills, anxiolytics and antipsychotics) than any other country in the world: 18% of the French public (in the 18-75 age range) have taken a psychotropic drug at least once. In 2012, 131 million packets of psychotropic drugs were sold in France.


New types of addition: hyper-connectivity and excessive smartphone use


We’re living in an age of permanent connectivity. Thanks to the internet, 3G, 4G and soon 5G, users can read emails, use apps and access social networks at any time. This usage takes place both at home and at work.

Businesses have had to adapt to this smartphone use by employees, which blurs the boundaries between work life and home life (see the article on Blurring). Since 2015, 336 million smartphones have been sold worldwide, a 19% increase on 2014. Mobile phones will soon be the leading digital medium.


Smartphone addiction


This expression came into everyday use in 2012, when the number of Google searches for it started to take off. It was originally a social phenomenon rather than a medical diagnosis. And a new addition is now starting to appear: nomophobia. A contraction of ‘no mobile phobia’, this term came from a study by the UK Post Office in 2008.


[1] L’Express-L’Entreprise

[2] INPES study





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