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Seeking Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Employees
by Dr. Jeffrey Stuckert
09/26/11
Not For Sale


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If you currently know of or have known of an employee that needs drug and alcohol treatment, it is likely that you are frustrated. As an employer, you have a range of options available, but the action that many employers are likely to take is to fire the employee in question. Employers may think that is this the most practical and viable option. Dealing with employee drug or alcohol abuse seems troublesome, and hiring a new employee altogether seems as if it is the best choice for the company. But that choice may be wrong.

There are numerous reasons why employers may want to consider sending their employees to a drug and alcohol treatment center. Some of the reasons are practical - increased job satisfaction, or the use of less healthcare dollars - but other reasons may actually impact the company's financial situation. The cost of finding and training new employees is not inexpensive, and it may actually cost less to send your employee to a drug and alcohol treatment program rather than to find someone new. The following include some, but not all, of the reasons to send an employee to a drug and alcohol treatment program.

Employee Drug or Alcohol Abuse: Reasons to Finance Employee Treatment

  • Productivity. Employees who are sent to a drug and alcohol treatment program will experience a boost in productivity. Employee drug or alcohol abuse is detrimental to the company - he/she may not be productive at work because they may be experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, or they may be trying to recover from the night before. Either way, employees lacking treatment cannot focus on their tasks at hand, short-changing the employer and the company. Treatment is essential to this employee. Afterward, he/she will be more responsive to their superiors, and in general, he/she will be a healthier employee - physically and emotionally.

  • Job Satisfaction. If an employee suffering from drug or alcohol addiction is a supervisor in any regard, after treatment, the employees that they oversee will also experience increased job satisfaction. Employee drug abuse and alcohol addiction affects everyone in the workplace. It impacts many functional areas of the company, as the workplace is heavily impacted by negative attitudes. After treatment, the employee will be able to perform better at work, managing their workload and others more efficiently.

  • Company Loyalty. Employees who receive drug and alcohol treatment will be much less likely to injure the company in an inadvertent way, such as damaging the company's reputation. When employees are actively using, they are not good ambassadors for the company or the community. Interactions with clients and co-workers will suffer, and attendance may often be a problem. However, employees sent to get treatment will do and feel the opposite - they may experience feelings of greater loyalty towards a company willing to provide them with assistance and help while they are dealing with their disease, and will "pay" the employer back with increased productivity, a boost in work performance, and company loyalty.

  • Recovery Time. Employee drug or alcohol abuse is a problem that can be treated within a reasonable amount of time. In residential recovery, employees who receive alcohol and drug treatment will be expected to attend a treatment facility for four weeks, and can begin work again in six to eight weeks. This recovery time is relatively short, especially in comparison to medical leave for lengthy operational procedures. The recovery time is not extraordinary, and the benefits, overall, are great.

  • Re-training and Re-hiring Costs. The cost to find middle to high management is substantial, and a missing employee puts a burden on additional employees to perform extra duties until that position is filled. Oftentimes, financing these costs can be more expensive than the cost it takes to send an employee to drug and alcohol treatment. There are several different costs that employers can expect to pay for when losing and attempting to replace an employee.

    • Separation Costs: These costs may be the costs paid for exit interviews, administrative duties, separation/severance pay and unemployment compensation.

    • Vacancy Costs: These costs may include the costs paid to employees who work overtime to take over additional duties, or to find and hire a temporary employee to take over that specific employee's tasks.

    • Replacement Costs: These costs may include the cost of attracting applicants, entrance interviews, testing, medical exams and acquiring and disseminating information.

    • Training Costs: These costs may include formal or informal training costs, literature costs, technology costs, and time spent learning additional tasks.


  • Moral Duty. Sending an employee with a serious health issue to find drug and alcohol treatment is the right thing to do. Legally, companies are not allowed to fire employees due to serious health issues, such as cancer or heart health, but employers are much more willing to let employees go because of substance abuse or alcohol addiction - diseases which should be treated as physical and mental health issues that need to be addressed for the health of the employee.


Summary

Whether an employer chooses to send an employee to seek treatment is ultimately up to company, but there are numerous reasons - both for the sake of the employee and for the sake of the company - to send an employee to receive drug and alcohol treatment, rather than to wish them well and finance the costs of hiring someone new.

About the Author

Jeffrey Stuckert, M.D. has practiced clinical emergency medicine in Ohio for 29 years and is an American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) certified physician. He has personally attended to more than 70,000 emergency-room patients, and currently serves as the CEO and Medical Director of The Ridge, a residential addiction treatment program and Northland, an outpatient treatment center near Cincinnati. Dr. Stuckert has practiced addiction medicine on a full time basis for the last two years. Dr. Stuckert has served as Chairman and Medical Director of Emergency Medicine Departments of both the Christ Hospital and Deaconess Hospital for 22 of his 29 years, supervising all clinical personnel and administrative operations of those divisions. This includes the supervision of over 100 emergency physicians, more than 100 emergency medicine residents and hundreds of nurses and ancillary staff. For more information about The Ridge, please visit www.theridgeohio.com, and for more information about Northland, visit www.northlandmbs.com.

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