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Recognizing Drug & Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace

Recognizing Drug & Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace

Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace has steadily increased since the beginning of the virus pandemic in 2020.  Since then, the number of workers who miss work or perform poorly on the job has nearly doubled.  According to the 2020 Behavioral Health Impact Update, substance use now affects 49% of American workers.  

As a result of employee substance use at home or in the workplace, companies suffer expensive consequences.  The losses reach $100 billion a year, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI).   

How Employee Substance Abuse Affects the Workplace 

Substance abuse by employees can cause a variety of problems.  These problems can include costly medical, social, and performance issues. Furthermore, they can affect both the employer and other employees who are trying to do a good job.  So, if a person comes to work hungover, or uses substances while at work, the entire workplace suffers.

Substance abuse by workers can lead to the following issues:

  • Repeated tardiness.
  • Hungover, sleeping on the job.
  • Poor decision-making. 
  • Inability to focus on tasks.
  • Reduced efficiency.
  • Trouble getting along with co-workers.
  • Stealing from the employer or co-workers.
  • Selling drugs while at work.
  • Using drugs or alcohol while on the job.
  • More likely to injure themselves or others.

Studies show that nearly 6% of heavy drinkers showed up at work high or drunk in the past year.  With that in mind, could you recognize if a co-worker is using drugs or alcohol on the job?

Spotting a Co-Worker’s Substance Use on the Job

Surprisingly, substance use in the workplace is not as isolated as we might think.  In fact, studies show that 10 to 20 percent of workers who died at work tested positive for drugs, alcohol, or both.  

Here are some ways to detect drug and alcohol abuse in your workplace:

  • Unexplained absenteeism.  If someone is missing from their desk or worksite without an excuse or reason, it could be a sign they are using drugs or alcohol.
  • Chronically late.  If a coworker is always late on Mondays, it could be due to heavy partying over the weekend.
  • Unexplained accidents.  Someone who frequently gets odd injuries while at work may be high.
  • Over-reacting to incidents.  If a coworker goes into fits of rage over small things that happen during the workday, it may be a sign of substance use.

Of course, these suggestions are not meant to make you feel that you must spy on your coworkers.  Also, there could be other explanations for their behavior.   But, if you do notice these signs, how should you react?  

How to Handle Suspected Workplace Substance Use

If you suspect a coworker of substance use during work time, it puts you in a tricky position.  Do you say something, and risk the repercussions if you’re wrong?  Or, if you don’t say anything, could someone get hurt and you’d feel responsible?  It’s a difficult position to be in, but there are some subtle ways to handle the situation.

  1. Document any evidence you think will support your suspicions. This should only include workplace behaviors.  
  2. Ask for a private meeting with your manager or human resources supervisor.
  3. Don’t confront the coworker yourself.
  4. Share your concerns with the manager and show them the evidence you documented.
  5. Let the manager or supervisor handle the situation from there.  

Most companies today have specific guidelines to follow in these instances.  In most cases, they will do what they can to help the person get treatment.  Being caught or accused of substance use in the workplace doesn’t mean the person automatically loses their job.  Many companies allow a person to return to work after completing a rehab program.

What Steps are Necessary to Create a Drug-Free Workplace?

When it comes to creating a culture that emphasizes a drug-free environment, business owners and managers have a big responsibility.  But, they can reach out to state and federal resources for assistance.

Here are some things managers, supervisors, CEO’s, and other business professionals can do to prevent employee drug use at work:

  • Establish a clear policy about workplace substance use.
  • Include pre-employment drug testing and random drug testing.
  • Make sure employees are informed about the consequences of failing a drug test.
  • Allow time off for people in treatment or recovery from substance use according to the ADA guidelines.
  • Provide health insurance for employees that includes coverage for substance abuse treatment.
  • Ensure that the company drug policies are in compliance with federal or state laws.

Small businesses owners also struggle with drug and alcohol use in the workplace.  Also, they are less likely to have programs in place to address the issue.  For that reason, the US Department of Labor offers a workplace kit to help small business owners create and maintain a drug-free environment.  

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Cycles of Change Recovery

Recognizing drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace is a great start in reducing additions.  But, making sure a person gets effective treatment is the ultimate goal.  Choosing the right program is another way to ensure that a person overcomes an addiction.

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we offer a unique, individualized approach to treatment.  We want our patients to get the perfect level of care for their specific needs.  Also, our team of skilled professionals is dedicated to ensuring the comfort and safety of our patients as they progress through the program.  We strive to help a person realize their true potential and provide the counseling and guidance they need to reach their goal of substance-free living.  

Contact us today at our Palmdale, California facility to learn more about our programs.  After you take this first step, we’ll be there to guide you through the rest.   


  1. businesswire.com/ – 49% of US Workers are Struggling with Alcohol and Substance Abuse
  2. standard.com/ – Behavioral Health in the Workplace
  3. workplace-dynamics.com/ – Building Blocks for a Drug-Free Workplace
Dangers of Fentanyl: Are they Real?

Dangers of Fentanyl: Are they Real?

Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled synthetic opioid that can be addictive and dangerous whether used legally or illicitly.  As a prescription painkiller, Fentanyl helps people manage pain following surgery or due to a chronic illness such as cancer.  But, as a recreational drug, Fentanyl is a deadly substance that has killed many thousands of people.  If you are wondering if the dangers of Fentanyl are real the answer is yes.  

You only need to read a few news headlines for proof of how deadly this substance can be.  Or, read the manufacturer’s directions booklet.  The “important warning” clearly states that ‘Fentanyl may be habit-forming and should only be used to treat chronic pain.’  The warning also states that Fentanyl can cause severe harm or death if used by someone who has not been prescribed the medication.  Furthermore, it warns that Fentanyl can cause serious breathing problems or death in those who are not tolerant to narcotic medications.  

Shocking Fentanyl Statistics 

Fatal overdoses involving Fentanyl increased 38.4 percent in 2020.  Many deaths occurred because the individuals were unaware that the cocaine, meth, or heroin they bought was laced with Fentanyl.  Furthermore, DEA analysts found counterfeit pills that contain .02 to 5.1 milligrams of Fentanyl which is twice the lethal dose.  

Drug traffickers typically distribute Fentanyl in kilograms.  The scary thing about this is that one kilogram can potentially kill 500,000 people.  

More Proof of the Dangers of Fentanyl

If the above statistics haven’t convinced you of Fentanyl’s potential dangers, read some of the following news stories.  Prepare to be shocked and saddened by some of these reports.  These are only a few instances of the dangers of Fentanyl.  Many more stories like these happen daily across the US.  

These stories are only a few out of thousands.  Clearly, Fentanyl is big business for some people, and they’re making tons of money.  But, while they’re counting their fortune, hundreds of people are dying from those dangerous substances.

Why is Fentanyl So Deadly?

Fentanyl is a potent painkiller that is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is also 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.  Another reason Fentanyl is so deadly is that people who buy illicit cocaine, heroin, or meth don’t know it is laced with Fentanyl.  

The effects of Fentanyl are very intense, but they don’t last long.  With each use, the person increases their tolerance, needing larger doses to get the desired euphoric effects.  The increased use can cause fatal overdoses.  In fact, only two milligrams of the drug can be lethal.

Even small doses of Fentanyl can cause a person to stop breathing.  Overdose effects can include:

  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Cyanosis (blue colored skin and nails)
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Respiratory failure
  • Death

Synthetic opioids, including Fentanyl, are the primary cause of increased overdose deaths in the US.  This fact alone confirms the dangers of Fentanyl.

Can a Person Overcome Fentanyl Addiction?

As with other addictions, there is no quick fix for Fentanyl addiction.  The best approach for overcoming Fentanyl is with a long-term, inpatient program.  This is especially true for those who struggle with Fentanyl or other opioid addictions.  Addiction specialists agree that the longer a person remains in treatment, the chance of lasting recovery increases.

At Cycles of Change Recovery in Palmdale, CA, we offer a comprehensive inpatient program that begins with medically supervised detox.   The next phase of our treatment program involves helping patients understand what led to their addiction and develop new habits and behaviors to resist going down that path again.

With the right combination of counseling, education, skills training, and aftercare, our patients can reenter society with confidence and a renewed sense of purpose.  If you’re ready to leave addiction behind, contact us now to learn more about our program.  The dangers of Fentanyl are real, so don’t wait too long to seek treatment.  


Stigma: Mental Health & Substance Abuse

Stigma: Mental Health & Substance Abuse

The stigma surrounding mental health and substance abuse has prevented many people from getting the help they need.  When family, friends, or society have negative perceptions about mental health or drug use, their beliefs are often based on preconceptions, generalizations, or assumptions.  These preconceived, often unfounded, perceptions are hard to change.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 

“Stigma is a set of negative beliefs that a group or society holds about a topic or group of people.”

“Stigma is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion and it contributes to the abuse of human rights.”

Perceived stigma can result in avoidance, rejection, prejudice, or discrimination against a person.  As a result, it can harm a person’s self-esteem and prevent them from seeking treatment. 

How Stigma Impedes Addiction Treatment

Substance abuse and addiction are often underdiagnosed and under-treated because of stigma.  Unfortunately, many people who use drugs or have mental health issues are often flagged as “drug-seekers” when they seek medical help.  As a result, they avoid emergency rooms or clinics.  Therefore, they don’t get a proper medical assessment or referral for the treatment that they need.  In many instances, fatal overdose is the outcome.  

Public stigma and personal shame are formidable obstacles to addiction treatment.  Here are a few ways stigma interferes with a person’s ability to get the treatment they desperately need:

  • Think they must hit “rock-bottom” before they need treatment.
  • Fear losing their job if they enter a treatment program.
  • Afraid of being seen as “weak” if they enter rehab.
  • Unsure of being able to rejoin society after treatment.

Someone with co-occurring mental health issues and substance abuse often feels rejected by society.  So, they isolate themselves and try to hide their drug use to avoid stigma and shaming. Over time, their substance use and mental health disorders get worse.  

If we, as a society, can accept and treat these disorders as valid medical conditions, many lives can be saved.

Importance of Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

It’s difficult to determine which came first, the mental illness or the substance abuse issue.  In most cases, a person struggles with both disorders concurrently.  Someone with mental health problems often uses drugs as a form of self-medication and may develop an addiction to the substance.  On the other hand, a person with a prolonged substance abuse history may have mental or emotional problems due to the drug in their system.

When someone struggles with these co-occurring disorders, the best treatment option is a dual-diagnosis program.  These programs are equipped to address both the physical and mental factors to ensure the most favorable outcome.   

Cycles of Change Recovery offers a unique approach to treating co-occurring disorders.  For instance, Biosound Therapy helps patients who have mental health and substance use issues. This therapy uses vibrational patterns that relax the nervous system to relieve symptoms of stress, anger, racing thoughts, fearfulness, and more.  We also offer 12-step programs, meditation and yoga, family therapy, and psychodrama therapy as part of our comprehensive dual-diagnosis treatment.

Words Matter:  Destigmatizing Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

Words are powerful tools.  They can evoke many feelings, beliefs, emotions, and fears.  As such, researchers believe the stigma surrounding substance abuse or mental health disorders can be minimized or eliminated by using different terms.  For instance, when referring to addiction or mental health the following guidelines are suggested:

Stigmatizing Language Recommended Language
Addict A person with substance use disorder
Addicted to X Has an X use disorder
Addiction Substance use disorder (SUD)
Alcoholic A person suffering from alcohol addiction
Drug abuser A person who uses drugs
Reformed addict A person in recovery
Recreational drug user Someone who uses drugs for non-medical reasons
Mentally ill, psycho, insane Has a mental health challenge
Mental health patient Is receiving mental health services
Committed suicide Died by suicide

The recommended language acknowledges the person before the condition.  It reduces the negative connotations evoked by stigmatizing language.  

Public perceptions are often swayed by words or images.  With this in mind, correcting stereotypes and misconceptions is a big step toward helping people get effective treatment.

Other ways to contribute to reducing stigma include:

  • showing respect to people who are affected by substance abuse and mental health
  • learning more about addiction and mental health
  • supporting resources for those who struggle with these disorders.

Rediscover the Joy of Being You with Cycles of Change Recovery

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we realize the complexities of addiction.  We know that addiction involves a combination of factors such as depression, PTSD, low self-esteem, anxiety, environmental influences, and more.  During your time in our facility, we will first address the physical aspect of addiction with our onsite detox program.  Then, you’ll receive the highest level of therapy to address the emotional or mental aspects.  

Contact us today at our Palmdale, California facility if you’re ready to rediscover the joy of healthy, drug-free living.  


How Long Will I Be in Recovery?

How Long Will I Be in Recovery?

The terms recovery and treatment are often used interchangeably.  Although they are related concepts, they are not the same thing.  If you’re wondering how long you’ll be in recovery, you must first understand what recovery encompasses.  

Treatment is a part of recovery.  But, recovery involves more than spending time in a rehab facility.  If you’re struggling with substance abuse or addiction, it’s important to have realistic expectations about quitting.  So, let’s explore the key differences between treatment and recovery processes.

Treatment is the first stage of recovery.

Addiction treatment programs often include detox, counseling, therapy, and aftercare.  Depending on the person’s circumstances, treatment providers can offer inpatient or outpatient programs.  The first step is detoxification.  Many facilities offer onsite detox programs which are more convenient.  

Contrary to what many people think, detox is not a cure for addiction.  This process only addresses the physical aspect of addiction.  The next step in treatment is to participate in a rehabilitation program that focuses on the emotional and mental aspects of the addiction.  Why is this important?  Because there are often underlying reasons why a person engages in substance abuse.  The reasons can include elements such as environment, family history of drug use, physical or mental abuse, emotional issues, mental health problems, and more.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is:

“… a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”

Treatment programs must have a flexible, comprehensive curriculum that can adapt to each person’s unique situation to ensure long-term recovery.  Depending on the substance involved and the duration of the addiction, treatment programs can last 30, 60, 90 days, or longer if needed.  Most people need at least three months in treatment followed by an aftercare program for continued support and guidance.

Recovery Is an ongoing process of staying sober.

When people refer to themselves as “recovered’ they should instead refer to themselves as “in recovery.”  The distinction is vital to the individual’s understanding of the process.  Recovery cannot be determined by a specific length of time.  It is an ongoing process that the individual must work at for a lifetime.  Also, the experience is different for each person.  So, recovery cannot be given specific parameters.  

Being in recovery means applying the concepts and skills learned while in a treatment program.  The classes, activities, and counseling help clients regain self-esteem, build confidence, and develop effective coping techniques.  They learn to recognize and manage triggers that could lead to relapse. The goal is to help a person manage daily tasks or stress without the need for addictive substances.  In other words, treatment provides a firm foundation for building a sober life.

So, how long will you be in recovery?  The best way to look at it is that each day brings challenges and temptations.  How you respond to those factors will determine whether you continue in recovery or suffer a relapse.  But, never forget you are not alone in the experience.  Millions of people are active in recovery today and enjoying the benefits of healthier, sober living.  

What if I relapse while in recovery?

Relapse is not uncommon during recovery. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 50 to 90 percent of recovering alcoholics relapse within the first four years after rehab.  For recovering drug abusers, the relapse rates are approximately 40 to 60 percent.  But, the way the person responds to relapse is the crucial factor.  In most cases, a person who has a “slip” can get back on track by attending a self-help meeting.  With a full relapse, additional time in rehab may be needed.

The differences between a “slip” and a full relapse are:

  • A slip is a short-lived occurrence.  The person may use the substance for a day and realize the risk they’ve taken.  They then take steps to stop using before addiction takes hold again.
  • A full relapse happens when the person returns to a pattern of substance use over a long period of weeks or months.  They may isolate themselves and skip meetings due to shame or guilt about the relapse.   

Relapse can be dangerous if the person uses the same amount of the substance they used before treatment.  This happens because the body no longer has a tolerance for the substance.  Fatal overdoses are a concern for people who relapse after treatment.  

Treatment and Recovery at Cycles of Change Recovery

Remaining in recovery is a continuing process of trying different methods to cope with daily stressors.  At Cycles of Change Recovery, we understand the challenges faced by our clients when they step back out into the world as sober individuals.  Therefore, we provide a comprehensive treatment program customized for each client’s specific needs.  

With the right combination of education, support, and compassion, we give our client’s the best chance for moving forward toward a purposeful, healthier lifestyle.  If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact our Palmdale, California facility today.  We will be happy to discuss our treatment options and get you started on the next cycle of change in your life.


  • asam.org – Definition of Addiction
  • ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – A Comparative Study of Factors Associated with Relapse in Alcohol Dependence and Opioid Dependence
California Here It Comes:  Fentanyl

California Here It Comes:  Fentanyl

Through the years, Americans have looked to Califonia as a trendsetter.  We expect that whatever happens there will eventually spread to the rest of the country.  Some of the trends are good, some are not.  

Many of our fashion, food, fitness, and lifestyle trends originated in California.  However, despite California’s influence on many American trends, the state isn’t responsible for the fentanyl epidemic sweeping the nation today. 

Beware California, fentanyl is your next big problem.

According to the San Franciso public health department, when fentanyl is sold on the streets, it is clearly labeled.  As a result of the labeling, people who buy the drug know what they’re getting.  This helps them take necessary precautions when using fentanyl.  

To date, the city has a low death rate from fentanyl due to the well-funded harm-reduction practices.  One such practice involves making Narcan widely available to help reduce overdoses.

But, those things are about to change dramatically.  Fentanyl is gradually making its way into every city in the state.

What’s causing California’s spike in fentanyl overdose deaths?

Addiction expert Kelly Pfeifer, from the Califonia Health Care Foundation (CHCF), had this to say about fentanyl use in the state in 2019:

“Here in California, we felt lucky we weren’t seeing the same kind of devastation from the opioid epidemic that was occurring on the other side of the country.” 

But, since then, the number of fentanyl overdoses has steadily risen in California.  Fentanyl-laced cocaine found its way into Los Angeles, causing many overdose deaths.  Furthermore, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, more people died from drug overdoses than from the virus itself.  

Statistics reveal an alarming trend in California.

According to the San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 708 accidental drug overdose deaths occurred from January – December 2020, compared to 254 COVID-19 deaths.  Statistics reveal that fentanyl ranked highest as a cause of fatal overdoses above heroin, opioids, meth, or cocaine.  

Part of the overdose increase is due to a disruption in social services during the virus pandemic.  Many addiction treatment programs closed during the pandemic.  But, addiction treatment is only one of the services that were negatively affected by the lockdowns.  Programs that provided support, Naloxone, or clean syringes also cut back on their services.  

Prolonged isolation is another factor that contributed to increased overdose deaths nationwide.  People often used fentanyl or other drugs while in lockdown alone.  If an overdose occurred, no one was around to provide life-saving assistance, administer Naloxone, or call 911.

San Franciso Board of Supervisors member, Matt Haney, gave this statement to the Wall Street Journal:

“We see the death and devastation getting worse right in front of us.  It’s an unprecedented spiraling, directly connected to the introduction of fentanyl in our city.”

In Las Vegas, fentanyl-related deaths among the homeless rose 26% last year.  Also, in San Francisco, 135 people have died from an overdose in January and February of 2021.  

Clearly, the fentanyl epidemic has arrived in California to continue spreading devastation from coast to coast.

How is the state responding to increased overdose deaths?

California has launched a campaign of opioid safety projects to enhance addiction treatment and prevent deaths.  In the past, there has been a shortage of effective, affordable treatment in the state.  Also, far too many people view substance abuse as a lack of willpower.   CHCF’s goal is to reduce this stigma surrounding addiction and create a new perspective.  

Also, advocates from addiction treatment facilities, public health institutions, hospitals, law enforcement, and more are working together to find effective methods for solving the opioid epidemic.  They provide physicians with updated prescribing guidelines, increase access to Naloxone, and expand the availability of treatment programs.  

The California Overdose Prevention Network (COPN) is another example of how the state is working on viable solutions to the opioid problem.  Also, the Inland Empire Opioid Crisis Coalition (EOCC) works diligently to reduce underage opioid use and improve the quality of life in the community.

Doing our part to reduce fentanyl overdoses.

The best way to prevent overdose deaths is to stop addictions.  At Cycles of Change Recovery, we want to be a part of the solution to the fentanyl crisis.  To accomplish this goal, we offer a comprehensive treatment program that helps individuals overcome fentanyl addiction.  

We believe anyone can overcome addiction with treatment that focuses on healing the person psychologically, emotionally, and socially.  Addiction encompasses more than the physical act of using drugs or alcohol.  Many other factors are involved that contribute to a person’s substance use.  With that in mind, we created a program to include various modalities customized to each client’s specific needs.    

Our program includes detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare services.  Through each stage of treatment, our clients are treated as unique individuals who deserve respect and compassion.

If you need help with fentanyl abuse or addiction, contact us at our Palmdale, California facility.  We offer a comforting environment where you can feel secure as you heal at your own pace.  Your success in overcoming addiction is important to us, so call now to learn how we can help you achieve lasting recovery.


  • sf.gov – Report on Accidental Overdose Deaths
  • wsj.com – Fentanyl has Spread West and Overdoses are Surging
  • chcf.org – How CHCF Helped California Respond to the Opioid Epidemic