Addiction does not discriminate. In fact, the CDC reports that about 91 people die each day because of opioid addiction. While many perceive addicts to be those individuals who are strung out and living under bridges, the truth is—addiction can affect anyone. From valedictorians of the most elite schools to the hard-working Joe’s across the nation, addiction, especially opioid addiction, is reaching pandemic status.
Because addiction is so hard to manage, many businesses are turning to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to help employees regain control of their lives.
The Opioid Crisis
In brief, many experts attest the opioid crisis in America to doctors over-prescribing prescription pain pills. In 1997 prescription morphine doses averaged at about 96mg per person. In 2007, the average doses of morphine increased to 700mg per person. That’s an increase of 600% in ten years. The pain didn’t change, but the mindset of treating it did. The results are the opioid crisis that we see today.
Opioid Crisis and the Workplace
The disheartening thing about opioid addiction is that it does not only affect the addicts, but it also affects everyone and everything involved with them—including the workplace.
There’s no questioning that when someone is abusing opioids that they are not at the top of their game. Not only can this pose productivity problems in the workplace, but it can also cause safety issues as well.
Studies reveal some startling facts about addiction’s direct and indirect effect on business.
- Premature death
- Loss of productivity
- Missing or late to work
- Poor decision making
- High turnover
- Low moral
- Disciplinary procedures
- Trouble with supervisors and coworkers
EAP and the Opioid Crisis
Many employers have begun to take action to help break the vicious cycle that opioid addiction imposes on the workplace by offering employee assistance programs (EAP). EAPs are intervention programs that are designed to offer employees assistance in resolving personal problems.
EAP programs are not just counseling services. The real benefit of implementing an EAP to combat the opioid crisis comes from the education piece. Wellness programs that address drugs in the workplace help to reduce the stigma associated with addiction. This in turn makes it easier for those in need of help to actually seek the assistance they require.
Businesses who offer EAP services agree that the programs they provide are of great benefit to the workplace. They report:
- 40% decrease in lost time
- 60% reduction in sickness and accident benefit
- 50% decline in filed grievances
Studies also show that replacing employees costs between six to nine months of their salary. For example, if your business tries to replace an employee who makes $100,000/year, it will cost between $50,000 to $75,000 in training and recruiting costs to fill the vacancy.
Businesses who implement EAP services for opioid addiction cover the gamut of treatment options tailored to the intricacies of this type of addition. So, it makes a recovery and returning to work much simpler than other programs.
- Detox from opioid addiction
- Intensive counseling
- Medication replacement therapy
This approach has proven to show positive ROI averaging about $1.49 on the low side to $13.00 on the high side for every dollar invested in the program.
The National Safety Council has gone as far as issuing a call to action for combating opioid addiction in the workplace.
- Partner with an insurance agency to offer EAP insurance
- Reevaluate your drug policy and your drug testing
- Invest in management and education
- Increase and ensure confidential treatment
Opioid Addiction’s Effects on Family Members and How EAP Can Help
If you employ family members of addicts, they suffer at work too. This also has a negative impact on the workplace. Those who are affected by a loved one’s addiction also have:
- increased absenteeism
- lack of focus
- health problems related to stress.
When employers offer counseling services, employees develop a sense of trust instead of that feeling of shame that is so often associated with addiction.
EAP Partnerships with Local Chamber of Commerce
A major complication that EAP service providers face is sharing the benefits of their programs with businesses. They are often thought to be too expensive for small businesses to consider. An effective way to circumvent this hurdle is to partner with the local chamber of commerce.
Small businesses join their local chamber of commerce for many reasons. Two noteworthy objectives are for community connections and training and education. So, EAP providers who opt to partner with their local chambers are offering solutions to businesses who want to help grow the community as well as learn what’s best for their business.
A significant benefit to partnering with your local chamber of commerce is that you can eliminate the perception that EAP programs are too expensive for small businesses. Workshops that educate businesses about on the ROI of EAP programs can not only help workers who are suffering from opioid addiction; they can also help companies save the money associated with finding new employees.
When you form a bond with any local entity, you can easily market your program for what it does and thus overcome any misconceptions or false perceptions that may be associated with it.