The impact of addiction spreads far beyond the person struggling with substance abuse. Addiction effects families, friends, coworkers, and even employers. In fact, over 50% of all substance abusers are employed full time. That number smashes the image that most people have in their heads when they picture a drug addict. While the unemployed addict that lives on the street is a very real person, the majority of people with addictions are working 40 hours a week. You may be working with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol right now. Given the large amount of people that are working while struggling with addiction, it would make sense for employers to offer help with drug addiction to their employees. So what kind of help do employees offer, and is there more they could be doing to aid their employees on their journey to sobriety?
Believe it or not, there are large number of workplaces that offer help with drug addiction. Many workplaces sponsor Employee Assistance Programs, or EAPS. Employee Assistance programs generally offer short-term counseling and/or assistance by connecting employees to local treatment sources for help with drug addiction.
For employees, it may seem a bit strange for an employer to offer its employees help, instead of firing them. But in reality, it makes a lot of sense for employers to take care of their employees by connecting them to addiction treatment resources. In fact, work environments that promote abstinence and help with drug addiction are more likely to not just be drug-free, but to improve job skills, punctuality, and other behaviors necessary for active employment.
That being said, employers that offer these types of services also use urine tests to ensure their employees aren’t using drugs without disclosing their issues to the company. It is also imperative that companies keep their help with drug addiction both confidential and educational to truly benefit their employees.
While many employers participate in EAS programs, there are ways that employer could go above and beyond to help their employees. These improvements can be broken down into three simple instructions:
Random drug tests can be extremely beneficial, but if they are used to fire employees instead of help them, they will only promote a sense of fear in employees that are struggling with addiction. That being said, it would be unfair to say that the employer is wrong for firing a dishonest employee, and that brings us to our second instruction.
If an employer wants to offer help for drug addiction, they need to make it known that help is available. Most workplaces in America have drug-free policies, but very few employees are truly aware of what the procedures and policies surrounding their employer’s drug-free stance are. By letting employees know that help is, or is not available, and how to ask for assistance if needed, an employer is letting their workers know that it is safe to speak to human resources if they are struggling.
While most full-time positions come with some form of health insurance, very few workplaces offer health insurance that covers substance abuse treatment. One of the largest hurdles for many drug addicts or alcoholics that are searching for help is the cost. Most substance abuse treatment centers will work with clients to provide treatment regardless of cost, but for some that isn’t enough. If an employer wants to help their employees get whatever help they need to improve their quality of life, that means offering help with drug addiction through health insurance.