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Integrating Substance Use Recovery in the Workplace

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Substance use and addiction continue to be significant challenges for many individuals, including those in the workforce. The CDC estimates that 70% (about 13.6 million people) of adults with a substance use disorder work. The impact of addiction is not only felt by the individuals using drugs or alcohol but also by their families, communities, and workplaces. It is estimated that substance use costs U.S. employers billions of dollars in lost productivity, absenteeism, and healthcare costs each year. With these challenges in mind, integrating substance use recovery care in the workplace can help employees overcome addiction and sustain long-term recovery.

The Advantages of Integrating Substance Use Recovery in the Workplace

  1. Improved Employee Well-being: By providing access to substance use recovery care, employers offer their employees the opportunity to seek help and support in overcoming addiction. This support can lead to improved physical and mental well-being, increased self-esteem, and a better overall quality of life for employees. In addition, individuals with substance use disorders need a strong support network. By maintaining a job, a relationship with colleagues, and a healthy environment, people can focus on their careers, ambitions, and responsibilities rather than their substance use. The loss of a job can often lead individuals to spiral deeper into substance use, especially since they lose a means to seek treatment. Having a job can help raise an individual’s self-esteem and boost their mental health, both of which are crucial in preventing relapses.
  1. Increased Productivity: Substance use can have a significant impact on productivity in the workplace, with absenteeism and presenteeism (where employees are physically present but unproductive) being common issues. Integrating recovery care programs can help employees address their addiction issues, improve attendance, reduce distractions, and enhance focus and productivity.
  2. Cost Savings: Substance use-related problems can be costly for employers due to lost productivity, increased healthcare expenses, and workers’ compensation claims. By integrating recovery care, employers can help reduce these costs by supporting employees in their recovery journey and minimizing the negative impact of addiction on the workplace.
  3. Positive Workplace Culture: Creating a recovery-friendly workplace culture fosters a supportive and inclusive environment. Employees who feel supported by their peers and employers are more likely to seek help for their addiction issues. This can help reduce stigma, increase open communication, and promote overall employee well-being and engagement.
  4. Retention and Recruitment: Offering substance use recovery care can be an attractive benefit for both current and potential employees. It shows that the organization values the well-being of its workforce and is committed to supporting employees’ recovery and personal growth. This can contribute to increased employee retention and help attract top talent to the organization.
  5. Legal Compliance: Employers have a legal obligation to address substance abuse in the workplace and provide a safe working environment. By integrating recovery care, employers demonstrate their commitment to meeting legal requirements and ensuring the health and safety of their employees.
  6. Positive Public Image: Organizations that prioritize employee well-being and support recovery care often enjoy a positive reputation in the community. Demonstrating a commitment to the health and recovery of employees contributes to a favorable public image, which can enhance brand value and attract socially conscious customers and partners.

How Employers Can Integrate Substance Use Recovery

  1. Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) – EAPs are a benefit often offered to employees to provide resources, counseling, and other valuable services. By partnering with an EAP specializing in addiction recovery, employers can provide easy access to services such as assessments, referrals, and counseling to support employees in their recovery journey.
  2. Provide Time off for Treatment – As more insurance companies recognize addiction as a chronic disease and cover treatment costs, employers can help their employees access quality care by allowing them time off for treatment. Employers can consider offering employees a flexible work schedule, time off for rehab stays, and a leave of absence during the recovery process. Knowing that they can recover and still have a job after treatment can push people to take that all-important step.
  3. Support Recovery-Friendly Workplace Culture – Creating a recovery-friendly workplace culture goes beyond offering benefits and resources to employees. Employers should aim to create an environment where employees feel safe and comfortable discussing their challenges while also offering support, encouragement, and accountability. Investing in training programs for managers and coworkers to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance use disorder can foster a more supportive work environment.
  4. Partner with Treatment Providers – Employers can partner with reputable treatment facilities and work together to create tailored programs aimed at addressing the unique needs of employees struggling with addiction. This partnership not only gives employees access to specialized treatment, but also helps employers to create a safer and more productive work environment.
  5. Educate Employees – Educating employees about the risks and challenges of substance use and addiction is key to reducing stigma, preventing addiction, and supporting those in recovery. Employers can offer workshops, seminars, and other educational resources for employees to learn about addiction recovery and support resources available to them.

Integrating substance use recovery care in the workplace is a collaborative effort between employers, employees, and care providers. By recognizing addiction as a disease and offering supportive resources and programs, employers can help employees overcome addiction and sustain long-term recovery, ultimately contributing to a healthier, more productive workforce.

Therapy Brands offers software solutions designed for substance use recovery providers. Whether you’re a large organization or a small agency, we’ll equip you with the tools you need to focus on client care while collecting the metrics you need to grow and comply with state requirements. Schedule a discovery call to learn about Therapy Brands solutions and how they could strengthen your agency.

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