Employers come to White House Recovery and Detox to get educated about the rough and tough reality of addiction and recovery. The information we provide allows them to empower coworkers, employees, and loved ones struggling with substance use disorder (SUD). Every year, thousands of companies are confronted with issues related to substance misuse in the workplace.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “U.S. companies lose billions of dollars a year because of employees’ alcohol and drug use and related problems.” White House Recovery and Detox assists companies that want to save money and retain valuable employees through informed policies and support services. We help them implement safeguards and better understand the rehabilitation process.
How Substance Misuse Affects the Workplace
Individuals who struggle with substance use on the job can be a danger to themselves, coworkers, clients, and the company’s reputation. Employers and company leaders need to recognize the signs of possible substance misuse and utilize those indicators to ensure a safe and productive environment instead of isolating employees to feel stigmatized and punished.
Substance misuse can affect the workplace in the following ways:
- Lowers productivity
- Increases tension among coworkers
- Increases risk of severe accidents and injuries
- Increases risk of fatalities in the workplace
- Damage to public image or company reputation
- Reduces job satisfaction
- Increases absenteeism
- The cost of hiring and training replacements
- Low morale
- Causes interpersonal issues
Companies set an expectation for employees, and too often, the people writing the rules have no interest in the health and safety of their workers. Competent companies that want their employees to succeed will go the extra mile to ensure they create guidelines that will make a positive difference. Many treatment facilities fail to educate employers on the possible benefits of setting clear expectations and work policies for individuals in treatment and recovery.
Setting Clear Policies and Expectations
Companies can limit the harmful effect of substance misuse by addressing the issue early on. Workers who misuse substances will be easier to identify in the early stages of addiction if the management team sets clear professional expectations and creates an atmosphere of trust and support rather than authoritarianism. Employers can increase productivity and morale by emphasizing a person-first approach to policymaking that gives employees a way to get help when they feel overwhelmed.
According to SAMHSA, “Workplace leaders must show support and set the right tone for your drug-free workplace efforts.” Employers who care about the people who work for them will make an effort to create policies and procedures that support individuals going through a crisis instead of tearing them down. The following guidelines can create a healthy work environment:
- Strict adherence to clock in or out times
- Regular break times that follow the federal guidelines
- No illicit drugs or alcohol on the premises
- No prescription medication in the workplace unless accompanied by a doctor’s order
- Maintaining strict inventory reporting if drugs or alcohol are part of the workplace
- Regular check-ins between the team and employees to make it easier to spot significant changes to routines, behaviors, or reactions
Employers can build an informed set of policies and informal expectations using the information provided by White House Recovery and Detox. The guidelines work to protect all employees, clients, and the company itself from the harmful effects of substance misuse.
Protecting Employees and the Bottom Line
Certain work environments tend to reinforce maladaptive coping behaviors, and employees at these jobs have a greater risk of being affected by substance misuse, including:
- Professional athletes
- Company executives
- Career workers in the food or service industry
- Medical professionals
Employers in these industries should prioritize educating their workers about the dangers associated with the position and how to avoid falling into the trap of addiction. Most rehabilitation facilities skip this step because it requires employers to acknowledge taboo subjects like substance misuse, relapse, and the realities of treatment. However, employees are at greater risk of harming themselves, others, and the company’s bottom line if employers refuse to educate themselves on the topic.
Do Not Avoid the Issues
The worst thing any employer or company leader can do is ignore the problem entirely; people who ignore the issues related to substance misuse run the risk of losing everything.
Some common ways employers avoid dealing with addiction is by doing the following:
- Immediately firing anyone suspected of misusing substances
- Making it difficult to get 30 to 60 days of medical leave to attend a treatment program
- Ignoring requests for additional time off to attend therapy, 12-Step meetings, or alternative therapies
- Ignoring interpersonal issues
- Playing favorites and sweeping the problem under the rug for prized employees
Substance use disorder is considered a form of disability, and individuals with disabilities have protection under federal law. Employers are legally obligated to protect the health and safety of all their employees, not only the sober ones. Unfortunately, many places get around this with at-will hiring, which gives them the power to fire anyone they want without stating a cause. Employers often use this to neglect to fix chronic issues in the workplace that contribute to a culture of substance misuse. Workplaces significantly increase the risk of substance misuse among their workers by:
- Expecting employees to regularly complete double or triple shifts
- Requesting employees work overtime or to do more than their fair share of the work during a shift
- Having unreasonable deadline expectations
- Ignoring interpersonal conflicts when assigning tasks
- Creating an environment that prioritizes profits over mental health
Plenty of opportunities exist to improve the workspace and potentially lower the risk of employee substance misuse. However, many people in leadership roles ignore those opportunities out of ignorance, a desire to meet quotas or a lack of empathy. Even employers who work with treatment centers can make the mistake of choosing a facility that treats clients like numbers instead of people.
What Most Treatment Centers Get Wrong
A few common reasons employers choose inadequate or ineffectual treatment centers include:
- Not checking the reputation of the facility within the recovery community
- Not educating themselves on the various types of facilities and treatments
- Not checking that the facility is adequately accredited
- Not reading the reviews of prior program participants
- Ignoring information that indicates the facility may not prioritize personalized care
Most employers who reach out to local rehabilitation facilities are unaware of how many programs and services are available for individuals recovering from substance use disorder. A few of the most common include:
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
- Outpatient programs (OP)
- Sober living communities
White House Recovery and Detox offers residential treatment, detox, and aftercare services that include educating employers about possible accommodations and support services they can provide returning employees.
Your Secret Weapon
Some individuals are receptive to intervention tactics, while others might shut down, lash out, or cause problems in the workplace when confronted with how their substance misuse has affected work performance. White House Recovery and Detox is unlike any other treatment facility. We are a secret weapon that offers the following critical services and programs features to individuals, families, and employers looking for solutions:
- Consulting services for companies and organizations
- Continuing care
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni services
- Community education
Every case is unique, and our team utilized decades of combined experience in addiction recovery to provide clients and employers with the tools they need to create a substance-free workplace. The program options we offer people in crisis include treatment, education, and skill development they need to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety. Settling for inferior services at a treatment facility that does not care about its clients will waste money and does not take care of the problem. Choose a treatment center that looks beyond the disease to the person underneath and their unique struggles.
Treatment Programs for Career Professionals
Career professionals and individuals who have unusual positions might need additional accommodations to ensure they can effectively return to work within a short period without endangering their sobriety. Residential treatment programs like the ones offered at White House Recovery and Detox are an excellent choice for career professionals like CEOs and professional athletes. The one-on-one, around-the-clock care and structured treatment provide a stable environment for healing and recovery.
Individuals with less severe symptoms might benefit from an intensive outpatient (IOP) or partial hospitalization program (PHP). Employers should leave the decision to the professionals with decades of experience in the field of addiction recovery instead of choosing based on their own limited understanding. Employers can save money and retain talented employees by making smart choices and coming from a place of empathy.
Retaining Talented Employees in Recovery
Talented employees with specific skill sets are not easy to find, and retaining them can significantly affect production and distribution. The policies and procedures set in place for addressing substance misuse-related issues can determine whether that person chooses to leave or stay.
Most employers make the mistake of waiting until a situation erupts to iron out their policies. Instead of being reactive, employers should consult with experts in addiction treatment and recovery and create a comprehensive set of guidelines before any issues arise. Employers can create a healthier workplace by having a concrete plan in place instead of acting out of fear, anger, or incompetence.
Retaining valuable employees does the following:
- Improves workplace morale
- Saves costs, including hiring and training
- Cuts down on any productivity loss
- Encourages loyalty and diversity
Treating employees like human beings who have made mistakes is the easiest way to retain their skills. Substance misuse is prevalent, preventable, and treatable. Employers need to do their due diligence to create a community that does not punish people for needing help recovering from substance misuse and related mental health conditions.
Supporting Employees During Treatment
Supporting employees during recovery can come in various forms, including:
- Accommodating shift and schedule changes to allow the employee to attend individual therapy, self-help meetings, treatment programs, and regular medical check-ups
- Being discreet and allowing the client to maintain their dignity by not disclosing details of their situation to others in the workplace
- Having a health and wellness plan in place to ensure the employee and their family get any assistance they need to maintain sobriety during recovery
- Motivating the employee to continue attending treatment and aftercare by providing positive feedback
Recovery looks different for everyone, and employers need to work with their employees to determine the best method to help that individual.
3 Mistakes Employers Make When Addressing Substance Misuse
Employers and individuals in leadership roles have to look at the health and safety of everyone. The best way to ensure workplace safety and productivity is by avoiding the following mistakes.
#1. Not Learning About the Disease
Allowing stigmas, social biases, and personal preferences to set the tone for how you interact with individuals struggling with addiction will not solve the problem. In fact, it will make the situation worse by putting additional pressure on a person who already feels lost and overwhelmed. Companies need to have realistic expectations for their employees in recovery.
Many employers are unaware that relapse is often part of the recovery process. Instead, they see it as a failure. Employers might fire or harshly reprimand the relapsed employee in a way that pushes them back into maladaptive coping behaviors instead of supporting and uplifting them through the moment of crisis. White House Recovery and Detox can provide educational resources for employers and companies to ensure a healthier work environment.
#2. Inadequate Relapse Prevention Support
Many employers think their business will not be affected by the damaging influence of substance addiction. However, the reality of the drug epidemic in America means that most companies will have to deal with aspects of the disease at some point. At White House Recovery and Detox, we inform our community by highlighting local relapse prevention strategies and support services. Employers can protect themselves and their employees by implementing policies and procedures that encourage employees to utilize community-based and private programs.
#3. Partnering With ‘Assembly Line’ Facilities
Partnering with facilities that treat the rehabilitation process like an assembly line wastes time and money for everyone involved. White House Recovery and Detox is a superior rehabilitation facility because we take the time to address the underlying issues causing the addiction. We tailor our treatment services to the individual needs of each client and their family. The treatment plan and aftercare services we provide are personalized and relevant to each individual, giving them the resources they need to return to work healthier.
Keep the Workplace Safe and Secure
The top priority of every employer and leader within a company should be the safety and security of the workplace. A workspace where employees are valued, respected, and supported through the treatment and recovery process will create a positive environment where employees have a reason to be loyal and go above and beyond to achieve company goals.
Relapse prevention is a critical factor when establishing support services for employees. According to SAMHSA, “When designing prevention education efforts for employees, human resources staff should consider addressing the concerns of employees who are:
- Interested in a range of health promotion and wellness issues—such as stress management, pain management, weight management, nutrition, or exercise—as well as disease prevention
- Concerned family members who want to learn to effectively communicate with other family members about substance misuse, addiction, life skills, and decision-making
- Concerned about their own or their peers’ substance misuse
- Interested in being part of community-based prevention efforts and activities
- Interested in confidential, individual education on substance misuse or addiction and related issues”
When creating policies, companies need to consider the positive or negative effect they will have on the community. Cookie-cutter guidelines and rules do not work because every workplace has unique challenges. The dedicated professionals at White House Recovery and Detox give employers valuable information they need to protect their productivity and the health of the workers responsible for ensuring their success.
Employers are responsible for looking after their employees’ mental well-being and physical safety while on the job. Maladaptive behaviors like substance misuse can be treated and should not be dismissed, ignored, invalidated, or avoided. The best way to ensure the success and productivity of a company is to make informed decisions about dealing with the effects of substance misuse in the workplace. White House Recovery and Detox offers a wide range of services, including interventions and education resources for families, companies, and individuals who want to find a better way to address substance use-related issues. We believe that policies based on facts and the experience of our clinicians will give companies a better way to support their greatest resource: healthy employees. To learn more about our services or speak with one of our expert clinicians, call us today at (800) 510-5393.