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If you are an employer, you probably know all too well that substance abuse can be a major problem in the workplace. It can lead to distracted or impaired employees, possible safety or security concerns, lost time and productivity, and undue negative impact on other employees. But in the rising tide of the opioid epidemic, these concerns are growing. As an employer, are you aware of the impact that substance abuse is really having on your business?

New Tool Shows Full Cost of Addiction


The National Safety Council recently partnered with Shatterproof and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago to launch a web-based calculator that tells employers based on their industry, location, and organization size, just how much their business might be suffering at the hands of unaddressed addiction in their employees. The website can be found here. It uses current statistical data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) to show employers what the hidden costs of addiction in the workplace are. The website cites the statistical fact that if nearly ⅓ of the American workforce is affected by addiction (including family members of addicts or alcoholics), and that 20.8 million Americans are affected by substance use disorders, odds are, your workplace may be suffering due to substance abuse among your employees. For example, a 150-employee company in Maryland, in the professional or administrative field, could be losing up to $72,681- $39,555 from lost time, $18,930 from job turnover and re-training, and $14,196 in healthcare. Apart from providing useful and eye-opening data, the website also provides resources to support you, your employees, and their families.

Further, the website does its part to reduce the stigma of addiction and recovery, citing the benefits that a worker in recovery provides compared to workers in active addiction. Many employers may be a bit gun-shy about hiring someone who is in recovery, but according to the website, workers in recovery from addiction miss 5 less days of work per year than those who are actively addicted or struggling with a substance use disorder. Further, workers in recovery prevent $1,626 in turnover/replacement costs, and each employee who recovers then saves the company more than $3200 per year. This is not to say that all recovering addicts and alcoholics are going to be model employees. However, having a history of a substance abuse disorder does not infer that the person is weak, immoral, or inherently corrupt. Many people recover, and as part of their recovery program, are actually better employees for it.

Due Diligence of Employers


As an employer, it is your responsibility to address these issues within your company- not only for the sake of the business, but for your employees as a whole, and for the person who needs help. It is increasingly accepted and acknowledged that addiction is a brain disease, and is not a sign of weakness or a moral failing. Particularly given the nature of the opioid addiction and its roots in the overprescribing of medication, anyone can be an addict. One great start is to institute (if you don’t have one already) Employee Assistance Programs, or EAPs (which you can read about here). Basically, these programs are in place to help a company’s employees to help employees with personal problems- including addiction. It provides a safe space for the employee to get the help they need, from professionals. Related policies could include regular drug testing, training for spotting signs of addiction for managers and employees, and developing healthy and productive intervention strategies, that will be most likely to result in a recovering employee and a profitable business. It is also important that you be aware of your company’s insurance policies, and strongly consider addition of substance abuse and mental health services to your provided coverage. What it may cost in the moment could lead to years of savings to come.

Help is Available


If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the professional staff at Serenity Acres is ready to help. Call today for your free confidential assessment, to see if inpatient treatment may be the answer you are looking for: 1-800-203-2024.