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Addiction in the workplace

Woman sitting at laptop in deep thought.

If someone in your workplace struggles with alcohol or drug use, let them know that treatment options are available, and its OK to ask for help. Substance misuse and mental health issues often co-occur, and both have morphed into a national health crisis. However, specialized caregivers can help manage addiction in the workplace.

Employee assistance programs

Many companies have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that can connect employees to helpful resources such as clinical experts. Substance misuse and mental health disorders fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If a person needs time off to receive treatment – depending on the number of hours the employee works and other criteria – their provider can complete paperwork for intermittent leave or a temporary leave of absence so that the person can get needed treatment.

Outpatient treatment

If the best option is outpatient treatment, the employee may only need to focus on periodic time management rather than extensive time off work. For instance, medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based option that treats opioid use disorder. It helps stave off cravings while treatment gets underway. The employee will be paired with a therapist who will work with the treatment provider for wraparound services, and in many cases, the employee can go about normal life activities while getting needed treatment.

Intensive outpatient treatment

Intensive outpatient treatment is a good fit for someone who has been trying to quit using substances on their own, but really needs the support of a clinical team. This treatment option provides ongoing therapy and support in several sessions a week for a few hours each time. Intensive outpatient treatment can last for six to eight weeks. Convenient options are available to accommodate modern lifestyles.

No one should struggle with addiction in the workplace.

No one should struggle alone when help is available. These conditions affect people in all jobs, cultures and walks of life. If you know someone at work who needs help, gently remind them that they can check with the human resources or benefits department to learn about an Employee Assistance Program, and they can visit local provider websites to learn about the recovery process. And remember, trauma, anxiety and stress can affect anyone, and become the triggers for substance misuse and mental health issues. There is hope for everyone, if we know how to find help.