There is no clean path for the opioid epidemic or guaranteed plan to solve its impact on the workplace. That ranges from worker protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and having legitimate prescriptions for the painkillers and ADHD medications like Adderall & Ritalin to convincing employees that telling management about a co-worker’s struggles won’t immediately get them terminated. Employers can drug test — and have liberal powers to do so in Arizona and under federal law for medical and safety-related jobs such as transportation, aviation and operating trucks and large machinery. But there are legal and real-world realities that arise in drug testing and when an employee or manager is struggling with addiction.
“Many employers have been quick to terminate employees who test positive for opioid use,” said Rayna Jones, an employment and workplace law expert and attorney with Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC in Phoenix.
For far too long, substance abuse and addiction have been regarded as a problem that can be fixed just like anything else. Patients constantly hear, “Why don’t you just quit?” or “You could stop if you really wanted to.”. The issue, like most other problems, is a lack of understanding. We know today, thanks to medical science, that depression is entirely too real for millions of people, and we know that it’s an imbalance within the brain. So why is addiction not considered to be in the same ball park? Why is addiction seen as a problem that is self-inflicted no matter the circumstance? Whatever the answer, we need to change how we think about addiction and substance abuse, and we need to do it fast. A recent report from the CDC estimates 91 American’s die every single day due to an opioid overdose. Over 500,000 deaths due to drug overdoses in general from just 2000 to 2015.
Close your eyes, and imagine what you think the typical drug addict looks like. Chances are, whatever you pictured more closely resembles what we see on TV and in movies than real life. A large portion of addicts are professionals, students, stay at home moms, or even law enforcement. An addiction can start innocently enough, maybe some pain killers following an accident or operation. That same CDC study had the following to say:
“The amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, yet there had not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans reported. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999.”
Those same professionals, students, and law enforcement are absolutely terrified of coming clean and telling anyone about their problem for fear of losing their career or being expelled. We need to change this. We need to show support and encouragement that an employee’s health and wellness matter, and that we want them to get better.
Our founder, Chris Cohn, has some experience in this matter. Here is what he has to say:
“In my experience, employees and executives are 85% more productive in their workplace after completing a 30 or 60 day treatment program, such as Scottsdale recovery center. Furthermore, employers and organizations driven by sales performance see a 75% increase in a sober employees sales performance, post treatment. So not only are they better people once they get into abstinence and recovery and work on their substance abuse addiction, they’re obviously way better employees as well.
The main issue I see when dealing with employee assistance programs (EAP) executives and HR departments, is the hesitancy with the addict to approach their higher ups and admit to having a problem. Slowly but surely, the stigma is being erased, but it’s still very prevalent, especially in the workplace. Obviously employees are in fear of losing their job once coming clean on their addiction, and that is wrong. We believe addiction is a disease. If an employee had cancer would his/her boss react in the same manner as admitting they have a substance abuse addiction? Probably not. That is the stigma we are trying to eradicate not only in the workplace, but everywhere. We teach EAPs, HR departments, business owners and the like, that like it or not addiction is common in their workplace, and its happening right now as we speak. They need to embrace recovery, support their staff and be a beacon of hope in making their organization an all-around better and more efficient workplace.
Scottsdale Recovery Center has organically developed a niche to help create better employees as we deal with numerous types of employees in all kinds of organizations; small businesses to fortune 500 companies. Many of them have employer based private insurance policies that cover substance-abuse treatment. Often times we’ve seen companies help pay the deductible or out-of-pocket expenses as well. Their return on investment after 30 or 60 days, is a sober, more efficient and productive employee and person. ”
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Scottsdale Recovery Center now to get the help you need. For over a decade, Scottsdale Recovery Center has offered an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare, providing “The Gold Standard in Care” with the Joint Commission Accreditation. Call 888-NODRUGS or visit the website at http://scottsdalerecovery.com.