Michael Frone, senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, said the study involved 2,429 participants, ranging in age from 18-65, employed in the civilian labor force and from households located in the 48 contiguous states.
The study participants were interviewed in a random telephone survey for 45 minutes.
"It's only when employees think their supervisor knows how to detect substance use -- and is willing to do something about it -- that employees' drinking and drug use on the job decreases," Frone said in a statement.
"Contact with a supervisor, no matter how often, is not a strong enough deterrent for some employees, our research finds."
Frone found workers reported drinking less on the job when they thought their supervisors could detect substance-use problems and were willing to take corrective action. However, supervisor enforcement had no relation to employees' off-the-job alcohol use and intoxication, Frone said.
The findings, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, indicate factors influencing employee substance use are more complex than previously thought. Supervisor training in how to spot and confront employee substance use would help reduce alcohol and illicit drug use on the job, improving employee productivity, Frone said.