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Employee Drug Abuse

Seeking Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Employees

Drug and alcohol addiction impact every area of a person’s life. From family and relationships to work and productivity, addiction controls lives and keeps individuals from performing to their potential.

Substance abuse in the workplace is detrimental as it leads to not only loss of productivity for that one employee, but it brings down morale and changes the entire workplace environment. Employers do have options when it comes to dealing with an addicted employee. Terminating the worker is a choice many employers consider, but this is not necessarily the best option. Helping the individual get into addiction treatment is often the best choice for everyone involved, and it isn’t as difficult as many would think.

Increased Productivity

An addicted employee won’t be at their best at work if they are experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, trying to recover from the night before, or high on the job. Employees with addiction problems will find it extremely difficult to focus on their tasks at hand, short-changing their employer and the company. After treatment, the employee will be more alert, more responsive to their superiors, and in general, he/she will be a healthier employee – physically and emotionally.

Employee Drug or Alcohol Abuse: Reasons to Finance Employee Treatment

A More Positive Workplace

Employee drug abuse and alcohol addiction affects everyone in the workplace. If an employee suffering from drug or alcohol abuse is a supervisor, the employees underneath him or her will likely be annoyed by their erratic behavior and negative attitudes. After treatment, the employee will be able to perform better, managing others more efficiently, bringing positivity back to the workplace.

A More Loyal, Dependable Representative

Employees in the depths of addiction can inadvertently hurt their employer. When employees are actively using, they are not good ambassadors for the company. Interactions with clients and co-workers will suffer, and attendance may often be a problem. However, employees sent to get treatment will do and feel the opposite – when a company is willing to lend a helping hand in overcoming their disease, they will “pay” the employer back with increased productivity, and a boost in work performance and company loyalty.

Avoiding Steep Costs

The cost to find middle to high management is substantial, and a missing employee puts a burden on additional employees to perform extra duties until that position is filled. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that financing these costs can be up to seven times more expensive than sending an employee to a drug and alcohol treatment center.

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Compensation

Expenses include separation costs for exit interviews, administrative duties, separation/severance pay and unemployment compensation; vacancy costs paid to employees who work overtime to take over additional duties, or to find and hire a temporary employee; replacement costs for attracting applicants, entrance interviews, testing, medical exams and acquiring and disseminating information; and training costs, both formal or informal, for training literature, technology, and time spent learning additional tasks.

It’s the Right Thing to Do

Sending an employee with a serious health issue to drug and alcohol treatment is the right thing to do. Legally, companies are not allowed to fire employees due to serious health issues, such as cancer or heart health, but employers are much more willing to let employees go because of substance abuse or alcohol addiction—diseases which should be treated as physical and mental health issues that are as serious as any other long-term, life-threatening illness.

Costs and Risks of Addicted Workers

Most people would agree that employees who come to work high or drunk are not beneficial to a company at all. In fact, they pose many risks, such as accident and injury, increased health care costs, tardiness or absences from work, stealing, and loss of productivity. Unfortunately, working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is becoming more and more common.

According to SAMHSA:

  • In 2006, of the 17.9 million current illicit drug users age 18 and over, 74.9 percent were currently employed.
  • Among 54.0 million adult binge drinkers and 16.3 heavy alcohol users, 79.4 percent were employed.
  • In 2006, 8.8 percent of those employed full-time were current illicit drug users, and 8.9 percent reported heavy alcohol use.

According to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • 1 percent of employed adults used illicit drugs before reporting to work or during work hours at least once in the past year
  • 8 percent of employed adults consumed alcohol before coming to work, and 7.1 percent drank alcohol during the workday.
  • Workers reporting heavy alcohol use or illicit drug use, as well as workers reporting dependence on or abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs, are more likely to have worked for more than three employers in the past year.
  • Workers reporting illicit drug use or dependence on or abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs were more likely to have missed more than two days of work due to illness or injury.

Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace lead to:

  • Tardiness/absences from work
  • Reduced job performance
  • Theft
  • Loss of efficiency
  • Decreased morale of other workers
  • Poor decision making
  • Conflict with co-workers
  • Decreased concentration
  • Possession or selling illegal substances at work
  • Need for disciplinary procedures

Benefits of Employer-Funded Addiction Treatment

For the sake of the company and for the sake of the employee, substance abuse and alcoholism cannot be allowed in the workplace. Many employers don’t know what their options are for dealing with a co-worker who needs addiction treatment. Some would simply fire the employee and cut their losses. However, this is not always the best decision for the company, considering the time and effort it takes to hire and then train someone new. This is especially difficult if the employee is a long-time worker with many responsibilities.

Firing the individual is not the best decision for the employee either but allowing an employee who is addicted to drugs or alcohol continues to work is a liability to the employer. A better option would be to help the person get into addiction treatment. There are many benefits to employer-funded addiction treatment. 

Increased productivity: The employee will be physically and psychologically healthier, more alert, and more energized to perform at work.

A healthier workplace: The drug abuse and alcoholism of one employee greatly affects others in the workplace. Unpredictable behavior, poor interpersonal skills, negative attitude, and low performance will cause other employees to either resent the person’s behavior or struggle with wanting to do less work themselves. After treatment, the employee will become more efficient and have a better attitude, increasing morale overall.

A more dedicated worker: Addicted employees are a liability to a company. Through tardiness, absences, theft, and loss of productivity, employees who bring drug or alcohol abuse to work are not at all dependable. After work-sponsored rehab, the employee is much more likely to feel a sense of gratitude to their employer for their help and will be a loyal, dependable worker.

Cost savings: Hiring a new employee, and finding an experienced, hard-working individual, is difficult. Training someone new is costly and doesn’t always work out. On the other hand, financing an established worker’s drug or alcohol treatment program will likely save the company in the end.

The employee is helped: Just as employers wouldn’t be able to fire an employee due to a serious health issue like cancer or diabetes, addiction is a disease and should be viewed as such. Drug and alcohol abuse treatment is available, and employers who are willing to get their employee into a program that will help them are not only helping their business but also looking out for the individual’s overall wellness.

The Ridge is a residential addiction treatment center that helps employers find help for their workers. Our confidential treatment program for professionals is customized to meet the individual’s needs, and we help employers navigate through the entire process. Contact us today to learn more about our program.