Mental health and substance abuse have always been important topics in the workplace, although they have become increasingly more important since the pandemic rocked the traditional work environment everyone was accustomed to.
This is especially relevant knowing that nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness, and rates of past year substance use disorder ranged from 16.9% among workers in the accommodations and food services industry to 5.5% among workers in the educational services industry.
Our team at Employee Recovery understands the drastic impacts of substance abuse, and we’ve pulled together some of the most important topics to provide you with the ultimate guide to EAP services.
Here's the ultimate guide to EAP services, including important topics like:
- Road to Recovery: Normalizing Workplace Substance Abuse Programs
- Is Your EAP Drug Program Providing Enough Support?
- EAPs & Mental Health: The Hidden Side of Substance Abuse
- Crafting a Substance Abuse Policy in Construction
- How to Deal With Substance Abuse in the Workplace Using Compassion
- What Is the True Cost of Substance Abuse in the Workplace?
- The Correlation of EAP Solutions and Increased Productivity
Road to Recovery: Normalizing Workplace Substance Abuse Programs
Believe it or not, substance abuse is more common among employees than we'd like to believe. In fact, the Addiction Center reports that more than 70% of those abusing illicit drugs in America are employed, as are most binge drinkers.
With numbers like that out there, there's no way any business should feel exempt from the repercussion of stigmatizing substance abuse programs. The only way to combat the growing numbers of substance abuse is to normalize workplace substance abuse programs to ensure everyone has access to support and resources.
This begins with making substance abuse a part of everyday conversations in the workplace. This not only takes down the stigma that mental health shouldn't be discussed in the workplace but may even help some employees feel more comfortable speaking up and receiving the help they need to get past their substance abuse problems.
The next step is implementing substance abuse programs. This brings more support and guidance to employees and also benefits the company with:
- Improved Productivity
- Improved Culture
- Reduction of Worker's Compensation & Disability Claims
- Increased Employee Retention
Is Your EAP Drug Program Providing Enough Support?
There's nothing more important to the growth of your business or your company's success than the health and well-being of your employees. They are the heart behind everything your company does, and their health determines how efficient and productive they will be with their work each day. Having an EAP drug program with enough support for everyone is absolutely essential.
An EAP drug program offers help to employees in need of counseling, assessments, follow-ups, and referrals to the care and support they need without mentioning a word to coworkers and managers to keep employees more open to taking action. While most companies already have an EAP plan in place, it's important to ensure yours is up-to-date and capable of growing with the ever-evolving social changes that affect your employees.
Take, for instance, the aftermath of the pandemic when most workers were sent home to work remotely. This caused a lot of stress, anxiety, and isolation for many employees who did not have appropriate access to the resources and support they needed at that time. The key is to ensure your EAP program meets every possible challenge your employees can face — and continues to grow with more resources as more challenges come to light.
EAPs & Mental Health: The Hidden Side of Substance Abuse
If there's one thing that's for sure, it's the impact the pandemic has had on mental health and substance abuse. According to the CDC, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use — 31% reported anxiety/depression symptoms, 26% reported trauma/stressor-related disorder symptoms, 13% started or increased substance abuse, and 11% seriously considered suicide.
There’s no way around it — these numbers are shocking.
The truth is, many employees who struggle with mental health find themselves resorting to substance abuse to overcome it. The problem is, when the two are combined, much more harm than good is often the result.
It's even common for circumstances to occur the other way around, where people who struggle with substance abuse acquire mental health struggles soon after. In fact, the NIH says that "drug use that precedes the first symptoms of a mental illness may produce changes in brain structure and function that kindle an underlying predisposition to develop that mental illness."
With such a strong correlation between the two, it has become much more important for businesses to ensure they're up-to-date with their EAP programs. Now that there has been a spike in mental health struggles, there's also a chance for substance abuse. The more prepared businesses are for this spike, the more prepared they will be in getting their employees the help they need to move forward.
Crafting a Substance Abuse Policy in Construction
While substance abuse is increasingly prevalent in many industries, blue-collar industries are typically at greater risk. In jobs like construction, where lives can be put on the line when an employee is under the influence, it is extremely important that a substance abuse policy is crafted.
Although many of us would like to believe it would never happen at our workplaces or to our coworkers and friends, it's more common than you think. In fact, studies indicate that almost 15% of construction workers engage in illicit drug use, including illegal and prescription drugs.
While creating a substance abuse policy and informing employees about it can be a major step in the right direction, you will also need to make sure:
- Everyone in the workplace understands the specifics of the policy and the available programs that support a drug-free workplace.
- Employees are motivated to support these policies.
- They develop a process to continually review and update their drug policies, which will support a drug-free workplace.
- Employees feel there is a shared sense of responsibility when it comes to the success of a drug-free workplace.
- Employees understand that a drug-free workplace is more likely to be a safe, productive, and healthy workplace.
From there, get familiar with the regulations and laws that may apply to creating a drug-free workplace, the priorities of the organization, and the character of your company's employees and the workplace as a whole. This will ensure that the policy is made to fit your organization specifically, and therefore, benefits your employees the most.
How to Deal With Substance Abuse in the Workplace Using Compassion
Dealing with substance abuse in the workplace isn't an easy task as an employer, but it does set the stage for other employees who may be considering getting the help and support they need. For this reason, it's crucial that employers and leaders deal with these substance abuse struggles with compassion and care. This can go a long way in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and substance abuse struggles.
First, it's important to be able to identify signs of substance abuse. To name a few, this can include unpredictable mood swings, progressive deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene, such as weight loss or gain, bloodshot eyes, frequent bloody noses, or extreme lethargy, withdrawal from co-workers, financial problems, and diminished productivity.
When you recognize one or more of these signs in an employee, how you approach the situation can make a big difference. Making the employee feel ashamed of their struggle is not only cruel but will do more harm than good in the end. However, the right approach can help get them the support and resources they need. This can include:
- Addressing performance concerns
- Discuss reasonable accommodations
- Go over possible consequences
What Is the True Cost of Substance Abuse in the Workplace?
It can be tempting to think that the true cost of substance abuse in the workplace is just the loss of one good employee. The truth is, the cost of substance abuse goes much deeper than that and often affects not just the person abusing a substance but all the people around them — their families and coworkers included.
Substance abuse isn't just a personal problem employees need to deal with on their own. It's a problem that affects the company and all its workers — meaning it's essential that every business have support and resources available to prevent and treat it.
First and foremost, the true cost of substance abuse includes direct and secondary costs. According to the National Safety Council, there is more than $364 billion in total cost to US employers per year due to drug and alcohol addictions, with the average cost of each untreated employee averaging around $8,817 per year.
Now think of that number compared to the number of employees you have and watch that number rise by a long shot.
Moreover, there are also 'hidden' costs in the workplace that employers don't often think about. This can include:
- Reduced productivity
- Extended sick leaves
- Late arrivals and early departures
- Workplace accidents
- Property and equipment thefts or damages
- Increased employee turnover
- Legal liability
When it comes down to it — doing nothing will certainly cost you more than providing your employees with the EAP program assistance they need to prevent and treat substance abuse struggles.
The Correlation of EAP Solutions and Increased Productivity
Although research has shown that no industry is safe from employee substance abuse and mental health illnesses, there are ways to ensure the happiness and health of your workers. The best solution is to have a great EAP program in place that meets all the needs of your employees.
Not only are EAP programs linked to happier, healthier workers, but there's also a correlation between EAP solutions and increased productivity.
It's important to acknowledge the link between mental health, substance abuse, and working from home. As mentioned once before, substance abuse and mental health can go hand-in-hand in many cases, with mental health issues causing substance abuse or becoming a symptom of long-time substance abuse.
Remote working, on the other hand, has pushed many employees into isolation, further spiking mental health issues and sparking the dangerous dynamic between substance abuse and mental health. Together, all three come together as a dangerous trio for a company's productivity and an employee's well-being.
According to the CDC, "healthier employees are more productive. The cost savings of providing a workplace health program can be measured against absenteeism among employees, reduced overtime to cover absent employees, and costs to train replacement employees."
Employee Recovery: Finding The Right EAP Program for You
The best thing you can do for the growth of your business and the health of your employees is work with professionals to find the right EAP program for your and your employees.
There is no one-size-fits-all for creating a healthier work environment for all workers, so it's important to take the time to truly understand your employees and what they need to overcome the most common struggles and challenges with substance abuse and their mental health.
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