Employers aren’t Addressing Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Posted on June 3rd, 2009
Posted in Addiction

A national survey of human resources professionals reveals that although substance abuse and addiction are among the most serious problems faced in the workplace, employers are not fully addressing the problem. The survey, conducted by the Hazelden Foundation, found that many employers do not proactively deal with substance abuse issues and do not refer employees to treatment programs, although many companies pay for them.

“Addiction is this country’s number one public health problem,” said Jill Wiedemann-West, Senior Vice President of Clinical and Recovery Services at the Hazelden Foundation. “We know that treating drug and alcohol addiction results in more people finding their path to recovery, it results in more resilient families, more productive work places and healthier and safer communities.”

According to the survey, more than 67 percent of HR professionals believe that substance abuse and addiction are some of the most serious issues they face in their company. The major problems stemming from substance abuse that affect companies are absenteeism, reduced productivity, and lack of trust. However, less than 22 percent of HR professionals say their companies openly and proactively deal with their employee’s substance abuse and addiction issues.

More than half of the professionals believe that the biggest challenge is getting employees to acknowledge and talk about their substance abuse. In addition, about half identified four major hurdles in helping their employees: lack of experience in identifying substance abuse and addiction; lack of information regarding treatment options; personal discomfort in approaching employees about the issue; and not having enough time to deal with the issues.

Eighty-five percent of the professionals said that education programs would help with the problem of understanding and addressing addiction in the workplace. The professionals said they would benefit most from information on how to identify substance abuse in the workplace; how to discuss the issues with their employees; and how to choose the most effective treatment options for their employees.

Hopefully this survey will raise awareness for the need for education programs for HR professionals and other employers. The more employers know about substance abuse and treatment programs, the better they will be able to help their employees and the effectiveness of their company.
 

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