How to Help Workers Who Are Struggling with Addiction

When we think of those struggling with addiction, many associate it with unemployment. That, however, isn’t always true. Addiction happens in the workplace, and it can impact the safety of other employees as well as decrease productivity in some cases.

It is also important to remember that addiction is an illness or disability. Hence, as an employer, you have a duty to accommodate an employee struggling if you can do so without undue hardship to your company.

If you believe, or even know for sure, that any of your employees are suffering from addiction, there are ways you can support them, as well as help ensure the safety of your other employees.

Here are a few steps you can take.

Implement a policy

Suppose you have a substance abuse policy for your company. In that case, it’s in writing as to exactly what the company’s expectations are for their employees and what the commitment is to help those employees who are in recovery (or those who may want to be). The policy should also outline what to do if someone suspects another employee is using drugs or alcohol while working, the consequences for non-compliance, procedures and any employee assistance programs the company provides.

Provide resources

Sometimes when people are struggling with addiction, they want help but don’t know where to turn or how to start. You can help by prominently sharing information about resources available to those who are struggling. Providing employees with a list of resources to whom they can reach out or where to start can give them the opportunity they need to get the help they want.

Amend your benefits package

If your company provides benefits to its employees, you may want to look into a more comprehensive package so it doesn’t just cover physical health issues like dental and prescriptions. Although offering in- or out-patient addition treatment may not be feasible for your business financially, including mental health benefits such as counselling and therapy can go a long way to help with addiction and recovery.

Talk to your employees

If you suspect an employee is struggling with addiction, you may want to approach them and discuss how it impacts other employees and their safety. However, doing this may make an employee feel defensive, so ensure it’s done confidentially and with sensitivity. It’s imperative that you, as an employer, do not try to diagnose an employee with an addiction but rather let them know you are there to offer support and help them through this.

Provide education

There are a lot of negative stereotypes about what addiction looks like and why it happens. As a result, those struggling with addiction will often not want to communicate with others or share their struggles because they believe they will be a burden or people will think less of them. Providing education to your employees about why addiction happens, and opening the lines of communication, can go a long way to having those struggling with it open up and seek help.

Contact TeksMed today

Supporting employees with addiction or in recovery can be uniquely challenging. As an employer, you want to ensure you’re providing the right support to those suffering from addiction without compromising the safety of other employees. TeksMed offers a variety of solutions to support workers and help employers manage the challenges of addiction, or other illnesses and injuries. Contact us today to learn about our disability management services and return-to-work programs.

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