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employe assistance program for addiction

Understanding the Employee Assistance Program for Addiction

Addiction doesn’t take time off. Just because you’re at work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. doesn’t mean the urge to use only rears its head once you clock out for the day. According to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, around 70% of Americans that struggle with substance abuse are employed. As a result, many companies can turn to the federal Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for addiction to help workers leading with substance abuse problems.

What’s the Employee Assistance Program?

According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), “EAP addresses a broad and complex body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders.”

Having these programs, requesting employees drug tests, and offering EAP services can help employers keep their workplace drug-free.

How Does the Program Work?

When an employee raises the topic of an EAP with their employer, it’s often done by broaching the delicate subject with their human resources department.

These voluntary programs are also free and confidential. Thus, counseling and referrals are between you and the treatment organizations. It’s also possible for an employer to initiate the EAP process if a worker’s substance abuse issues become apparent. Generally, if behaviors begin affecting work, then HR will intervene.  Either way, an EAP representative will eventually make a referral. Thus, connecting the employee with treatment options before finally returning to work.

After EAP phone consultations or meetings with a counselor, admission to a rehabilitation facility could be a recommendation. Whether this means mandatory inpatient drug addiction treatment or is an after-hours A.A. or N.A. meeting depends on the employee’s condition.

How Common are These Programs?

When most people first hear of EAP, they don’t believe in them. However, according to the Employees Assistance Professionals Association, these programs are more common than most think:

  • More than 97% of large companies with over 5,000 employees offer EAP
  • Around 80% of middle-sized companies with between 1,000-5,000 employees have an EAP
  • Close to 75% of small businesses with less than 1,000 employees offer EAP
  • Smaller companies might have some form of EAP as well

Benefits of Using an Employee Assistance Program for Addiction

There are many benefits to consider if you work with a company that provides EAPs and struggling with a substance abuse problem.

  • You will have a safe environment to discuss your addiction issues, the program secures confidentiality, and your name will never be identified
  • Have access to an assistance program with a hotline available 24/7 so you can reach out for help whenever at any time
  • Get access to resources and support to address substance abuse disorders to prevent potential job loss and escalation of your addiction
  • The program can help reduce workplace conflicts, absenteeism, and cost of insurance for treatment
  • Assistance re-integrating employees back into the workforce upon completion of treatment

The program also helps with addiction education, peer group programs, and family support. Many EAPs also offer adjusted work schedules so employees can seek treatment while working. In this case, many employees attend an outpatient program that gives them the flexibility to maintain a working schedule.

Keep Your Job and Seek Treatment for Addiction

In conjunction with the Employee Assistance Program, workers struggling with substance abuse can also seek treatment, knowing that they can’t lose their jobs.

Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees get up to 12-week of unpaid, protective leave per year if they meet the requirements. FMLA is available for employees in companies with 50 or more employees. Medical leave for the treatment of a substance abuse falls under these parameters. However, to qualify for this, you’d also need to:

  • Work history of at least 12 months with your employer
  • At least 1,250 worked hours in the past 12 months
  • Work for a company that meets the FMLA requirements

These scenarios are only valid for preventative measures. Generally, an employer can still fire you if they can prove your poor performance is related to your drug abuse problem. As a result, an employee should try to be proactive in taking action with their employee assistance program for addiction assistance.

Explaining Work Leaves

The type of treatment program an EAP representative recommends will determine whether or not you need to take a leave from work. Thanks to FMLA laws, employees can take up to 12-weeks of leave within a year. These work leaves can be in intervals or into a modified work schedule, or both.

For people that might need an inpatient stay to ensure a successful recovery, the timeframe for these treatment options is at least 30 days. In this case, most workers will take a month of work leave and then move to a modified workplace to allow time for therapy sessions and other checkups to monitor their recovery.

On the other hand, many people may choose an outpatient program. Generally, Outpatient rehab requires people to attend A.A. or N.A. meetings, as well as 12-step meetings throughout the week. In this case, a modified working schedule works best, and most people won’t notice the absence.

Regardless of the treatment program you choose, EAP representatives are required by law to keep all your information confidential. In effect, the addiction rehab center follows the same confidentiality for health information and the treatment process. The idea is to create a safe environment that encourages employees to seek when needed.

Seeking Help

Contact your Human Resource department immediately if you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder. Remember, these types of substance abuse treatment programs support you in finding the help you need.

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we work with countless employers that want to support their workers. Through an Employee Assistance Program for addiction, employees can receive quality treatment options. Our outpatient treatment programs are comprehensive and individualized. Our staff will help you battle drug and alcohol addiction so that you can return to the workforce healthier.

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