According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, about 70 percent of the estimated 23 million people who struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol in the U.S. are employed.
Substance abuse makes it difficult to do a job well. Addicts may be absent from work more often as they wake up hung over or sleep off a night of partying, and they may also use substances during work hours and experience impaired functioning that causes them not to perform well in the workplace.
Addiction can also impact close family members in the workplace, as they try to help or take care of the addict, cover for the addict, or respond to emergencies that occur during work hours.
How to Handle Addiction Treatment With Your Employer
While employers may not be thrilled about employees taking extended time off to enter addiction treatment, there are ways to handle the issue of treatment without alienating your boss or losing your job.
It is best to follow your counselor or caseworker’s advice about the level of treatment to pursue. In some cases, you may be able to do outpatient treatment outside working hours, but more severe, long-term, or entrenched substance abuse problems may require inpatient treatment.
Talking to your HR representative is the first step to figuring out what benefits you may have and broaching the subject of treatment with your employer. The HR department is duty-bound to keep your inquiries confidential until you are ready to disclose the situation to your superiors, and your rep can usually offer good information about treatment options and locations.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can be a help in providing short-term counseling for some of the issues that come along with substance abuse, including assessments to determine treatment needs and referrals to treatment facilities as well as short-term counseling. EAPs are completely confidential and are intended to reduce the stigma of substance abuse and mental health issues among employees.
Treatment Options and Privacy Concerns
Most health insurance policies cover 30 to 60 days of inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment including medical detox and follow-up aftercare. Because of the confidentiality required by HR, you do not even have to tell your employer anything about your absence except that it is for “medical reasons” if you prefer it that way.
While the stigma of substance abuse is not completely gone, many employers are supportive of substance abuse treatment and recognize that it is a better alternative than losing an employee to overdose, risking a workplace accident, or having constant absenteeism because of substance abuse.
Employers may also recognize that research has shown that addiction treatment may pay for itself in reduced healthcare costs after treatment, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity.
While concerns about your employment are both reasonable and important to consider, the overarching issue that you must address is the importance of getting the type of help you need to get on the road to recovery and reclaim your life free from addiction.
We can help you do just that. Take a moment today to learn about admissions at Recovery Village at Palmer Lake as a great option for substance abuse treatment in Colorado.