Workplace Addiction: How Companies Can Support Employees

Workplace Addiction Meeting

This may come as a surprise to some, but the majority of those who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol are holding down jobs in our country. In fact, approximately 70 percent of all adults with an alcohol or drug use disorder are employed, according to workplace addiction data from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The same data also found that these individuals – meaning, those who have a current substance use disorder – account for nearly 9%, or approximately 13.6 million workers, of the entire workforce. It makes sense, then, to invest resources in helping these individuals develop a path toward recovery. The benefits of doing so are significant.

The Dangers of Workplace Addiction

Workplace addiction can result in a number of negative outcomes, such as increased health care claims, absenteeism, and turnover rate. In addition to an addiction being detrimental to an employee’s quality of life, it can also negatively impact a company’s overall productivity and morale, as well.

Therefore, employers should work to create a more inclusive work environment – one that aids those struggling with a substance use disorder.

Here a few ways that companies can provide that workplace addiction support, courtesy of Kelsey Moreira, sober founder and CEO of Doughp.

Create a Recovery-Friendly Workplace

Because addiction carries a social stigma that discourages people from coming forward and asking for help, it’s important to create a workplace culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their struggles, without judgment. With team members able to address workplace addiction openly, it creates a culture of inclusion (rather than exclusion), as well as encourages others on the team who might be struggling with substance abuse to come forward and seek treatment.

Invest in Employee Assistance Programs

A great way to address a team member’s drug and addiction issues may lie in Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which have been found to be effective resources for getting individuals struggling with addiction into active recovery. These programs can include services, such as counseling sessions, confidential evaluations, and referrals for treatment options related to substance abuse.

Educating Team Members on Workplace Addiction

By offering education on substance abuse, management can open a dialogue with employees and address the stigma and shame that is often tied to addiction. After all, those who know more about the disease may be less inclined to judge. Additionally, learn the signs and symptoms of substance misuse, so that team members can intervene when an individual needs help and guide him or her to available resources and treatment options.

Celebrating Employee Recovery and Sobriety

Companies often celebrate events, like birthdays and new babies, so why not sobriety milestones? Celebrating these successes – no matter what size – are important for several reasons. First, they will boost confidence within those addicted individuals and motivate them to continue their fight against addiction. Additionally, acknowledging these milestones will further promote inclusion and acceptance into the company’s culture.

Have Workplace Addiction Support and Resources Available

In addition to creating an inclusive culture, companies should also ensure they have resources and information on-hand should a team member ask for support. One example, recommended by Moriera, is the 24/7, confidential helpline provided by SAMHSA, which can be accessed for free by anyone who is struggling with mental and/or substance use disorders.

Ultimately, workplace addiction affects everyone in the workplace. Therefore, by developing a path to recovery, rather than automatic job termination, team members within a company can enjoy a win-win outcome.


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