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Don’t Let Addiction Harm Your Business

As drug and alcohol addiction reaches epidemic proportions, the cost to employers is also escalating since your workforce is most likely impacted by this tragedy.

What can employers do? It’s a question many business leaders have struggled with for years, but the time has come for companies to deal with addiction as vigorously as possible.

By Shayne Sundholm, CEO Clean Recovery Centers

Ask the tough question

A good question for a business to ask is, “How successful has our current approach been in handling employees suffering from addiction?” The answer is probably, “Not very well.”

I am certain some firms are handling the issue well. But my guess is that many are not doing as well as they would like.

 

Problems that companies face

A big issue with addiction is the continuing stigma attached to the disease. This prevents many employees from letting their employer know they are not well and need help.

In addition, many employers, and people in general, have a very negative view of addiction, believing it is a moral issue or a character flaw. But, addiction is a chronic brain disease, plain and simple.  Once a person is in the grips of their addiction, they have almost no chance of getting well themselves.

 

Understand the costs

Another problem is that many businesses do not fully realize the costs associated with addiction in the workplace and why treating it effectively is so critical.

An employee suffering from addiction is usually performing at a subpar level at best. Missing work combined with unproductive hours on the job can be very costly to firms. But there’s more – company morale can be impacted. The behavior of employees in active addiction can be abhorrent and even dangerous.

 

The 10 percent problem

Assume 10% the population suffers from some form of substance abuse. Now let’s assume 10% of your employees are suffering from some form of substance abuse. Can you afford to have 10% of your staff unproductive?

What is this costing your business in terms of productivity, company moral and ongoing hospitalizations for addiction?

 

Steps to take

Does your Company Employee Assistance Programs include comprehensive plans of action for those suffering from addiction? Business leadership must be involved in developing plans and identifying resources to recommend to the suffering employee.

Yes, treatment can be costly. But if it is not effective, addicts may end up relapsing chronically, driving company insurance premiums up and up.

A business should research, identify and recommend programs that have high success rates. Do this, and you will be doing the employee and your company an enormous favor in the mid-to-long term.

 

Take a firm stand

Finally, it is crucial that companies do not enable suffering employees. These individuals must take responsibility for getting well and staying well. If they don’t, there should be consequences.

Support the employee with policies, procedures and programs that you have established. But make this clear – as long as employees are willing to do what is required to get well and continue to do so, the company will support them.

Conversely, if they are not willing, the company will not support them beyond a certain point. To do anything else is simply not fair to the company and the other employees.

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