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3 Vital Ways to Support Employees with Substance Abuse Disorders

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

The mental health needs of employees and their families should be at the forefront of the workplace strategic agenda. Mental health can obviously have a financial cost to your company, but it has a human cost as well. Substance abuse significantly affects work performance, and the employee's behaviour does not reflect their true value. The workplace is a key access point in addressing these issues

Here are the best ways to support your employees with substance abuse disorder.

1. Be Informed

Know the signs of addiction. Do not wait until things have gotten completely out of hand. If you can spot an employee who is struggling, you may be able to intervene before things get entirely out of hand. Catching the signs early can make treatment more successful, save their job, and avoid harm coming to your business

Some signs maybe

· Poor attendance

· Performance-related issues

· Errors in judgement

· Personality/behaviour changes

Ask for help if you are unsure how to deal with these issues in the workplace. If you aren't sure when to intervene or what kind of help your employees need, do not be afraid to ask someone with a better understanding of this type of problem. Some great places to start could be an HR professional or someone else with a background in addiction issues. Find out what others are doing to support their employee with addiction. Do your research.

2. Have Resources Available

Offer comprehensive employee education about substance abuse, screening, treatment referrals, and follow-centers. There are training programs that can help employers and employees recognize the warning signs of addiction and other mental health red flags. Educating yourself and everyone in your workplace can create a safer environment while lessening the stigma around mental health and substance abuse issues. Consider offering more flexible scheduling to allow employees seeking help the time and the mobility to receive the treatment they need properly.

EAP (Employee Assistance programs) are long-term solutions that provide support to employees during times of crisis. EAP can offer sets of resources and services to help your employees, like financial or stress management classes. EAP's are not only for substance abuse issues but for general mental health and well-being. However, make sure your EAP offers services that support those with substance abuse issues because they don't always. These programs not only help your employees but you as well.

Ensure that benefits are designed to give your employees the best access to high-quality care for not just themselves but their families too. This reduces barriers, financial or otherwise, to accessing appropriate care. Keep your employee in mind when developing programs and resources. Workplace safety always comes first, and no employee is immune to struggle.

3. Create a Positive and Healthy Workplace Environment

Make sure you create a workplace environment that actively encourages your employees to take care of their mental health and well-being. Demonstrate support for the resources and programs you have set up to help your employees if they are struggling. Ensure that your employee knows that you prioritize tackling substance abuse and other mental health conditions and will support anyone struggling with these issues.

You want to create a workplace that empowers and motivates employees to seek help if needed. This means negating fears of potential negative repercussions on their job performance or stigmatization within the workplace. Reassure them that you maintain strict confidentiality and always respect the privacy of individuals in need of treatment. Remember to properly communicate with your employee whether their seeking help or in treatment. Reach out and follow up to make sure they are okay. Reassure them that you understand the importance of getting help and that you will accommodate them getting the treatment and help they need.

3 Vital Ways to Support Employees with Substance Abuse Disorders


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