Reve was every woman's role model. She could calmly handle any work assignment, cope with corporate crisis and still go home to deal with the needs of her two children, the house and her husband, Brad.
While Brad said he was supportive of Reve's career and liked the lifestyle her income helped to provide, he wasn't the type of man who got involved with housework or children's needs. He didn't need to. Reve did it all.How did she stay so calm and in control? Reve took Valium. A lot of Valium. So much, in fact, that one day she was unable to control the lower half of her body and lost continence.
Reve, like a growing number of women in the workplace, are abusing drugs, according to a recent analysis of drug use by women in the American work force. The analysis, performed by the Great American Insurance Co.'s Drug-Free Workplace Task Force, examined data from several different sources including a comparison of figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau.
As many as one in every 20 working women may currently be using illicit drugs. Five percent of working women aged 18 to 49 currently use illicit drugs. Based on figures provided by the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, that equates to more than 3 million of the 60 million women in America's work force.
"These figures are alarming enough on their own merit," says Beth Lindamood, senior market analyst for Great American. "But become even more significant when you consider that women may comprise 50 percent of the work force in less than 10 years."
Drugs most commonly abused by women include alcohol, followed by the misuse of prescription drugs, then use of illicit "street" drugs (marijuana, cocaine, etc.). Misuse of prescription drugs may be a result of lack of knowledge and experience with specific drugs. For example, a woman may go to her doctor with complaints including depression, inability to sleep, anxiety. The doctor may prescribe any one of the growing variety of anti-depressants on the market. Women may take one prescribed anti-depressant and feel better.
"Would two," she wonders, "make me feel even better?" How about three? As she increases her dosage, the sense of well-being the drug at first provided begins to decrease. It also may begin to result in unwanted side effects. Does she stop? Not if she's addicted.
Most people don't think of themselves as being addicted. After all, the medication was prescribed by a doctor. One who may be too busy to caution her or provide education as to what constitutes addiction. The pill is a quick fix. She'll think about long-term solutions later.
What kind of job a woman has may have an influence on what kind of drug she uses. For instance, it was found that among women, alcohol use at work was most likely in the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries. Marijuana use on the job most often occurred in construction jobs, and cocaine use on the job was most prevalent in the transportation sector.
A National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) revealed that women become addicted quicker and develop substance abuse-related diseases sooner than men. "Women who smoke, abuse alcohol and use illegal drugs like men, will die like men, only sooner," said CASA president and former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that drug use in the workplace costs American business and industry between $75-100 billion annually in lost time, accidents and higher health-care and workers' compensation costs. "Drug or alcohol impaired-workers - male and female - are dangerous, to themselves and others," Lindamood said. "But businesses are far from powerless in dealing with the situation."
The first step is to establish and implement a comprehensive drug-free workplace program. That includes adopting a written substance-abuse policy, implementing an effective drug testing program, training supervisory personnel and employees, and offering an employee assistance program (EAP) to provide women and men with help for their substance abuse problem before it costs them their jobs and their quality of life.