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Employee Assistance

A good Employee Assistance Program is worth its weight in gold.

And when it comes to the health and welfare of employees, companies need to do what they can to help workers battle life’s unexpected and sometimes tragic twists and turns, a local EAP specialist says.

Debbie Blossom, Business Writer Modified: February 17, 2009 at 11:43 am •  Published: July 27, 2008

Impact of addiction in the workplace:
  • Alcohol and drug abuse cost American businesses an estimated $81 billion in lost productivity in just one year — $37 billion due to premature death and $44 billion due to illness.
  • Alcoholism is estimated to cause 500 million lost workdays annually.
  • Most people who abuse alcohol or illicit drugs are employed; 76 percent of illicit drug users are employed; of 43 million adult binge drinkers, 81 percent are employed; of 12. 4 million heavy drinkers, 80 percent are employed.
  • More than 60 percent of adults know someone who has reported for work under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Substance abuse in the workplace creates such problems as increased absenteeism, on-the-job accidents, errors in judgment, legal expenses, medical insurance claims and illness rates, decreased productivity and employee morale.
  • Addiction programs cost less than replacing an employee, which can cost employers one to two times the person’s salary including recruitment, advertising, reviewing applications, travel, relocation, human resources staff time and the loss of company knowledge.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; National Association of Treatment Providers.

A 2006 survey of human resource professionals by the Hazelden Foundation, a national nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers, found:

  • More than 67 percent believe that substance abuse and addiction is one of the most serious issues they face
  • More than 54 percent believe that getting employees to acknowledge or talk about the issue is the toughest challenge
  • Eighty five percent believe educational programs would be an effective part of a program to deal with substance abuse and addiction issues
  • At least 92 percent agree an effective treatment program increases employee productivity; 67 percent believe that access to an effective treatment program reduces overall employer health care costs
  • Fifty six percent believe addiction among women had increased during the past five years. Women also are reluctant to get help because they fear losing custody of their children and a fear that employers and family will find out.