How to help a coworker facing addiction

man in counseling session
Counseling for addiction

Pensacola, Fla. (April 4, 2023) – Knowing a coworker who is struggling with addiction can be awkward and uncomfortable. It may ease your mind to know that you only need to do two things to lead them to help.

  1. Let the person know you genuinely care. Speak to them in a non-confrontational, compassionate way explaining that you are going to try to help them.
  2. Refer the person to your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for access to counseling, accommodations and potential leave time to receive treatment.

From there, specially trained caregivers can take over.

Substance misuse often overlaps with mental health issues, and if an employee feels threatened over losing their job, they may not seek treatment and only get worse. Over time, misuse alters brain chemistry. It takes a specialized team to address the addiction issues and co-occurring issues like depression, anxiety, trauma, chronic pain and family relationships. A clinical team can map out an individualized recovery plan, and the employee may need extended time away from work to get well.

If that’s the case,  substance misuse and mental health disorders often fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act, depending on the number of hours the employee works and other criteria. That means their provider can complete paperwork for a temporary leave of absence, and the employee’s job would be protected by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Lakeview Center caregivers are available to help with this paperwork and coordinate intermittent leave or FMLA. The good news is that when they return, you will likely recognize the talented, engaged person they once were.

Addiction can happen to anyone in the workplace, and when unaddressed, it can result in costly errors, accidents and decreased productivity. Putting off treatment or terminating someone can only make matters worse. Successful treatment is available, and recovery is possible. Check with your human resources or benefits department to learn about your Employee Assistance Program and visit local provider websites to learn about the recovery process through services like intensive-outpatient treatment and medication-assisted treatment at Friary Pensacola.