If you have employees who suffer from Substance Use Disorder (SUD) there are steps that you can take to support them. Here are three ways to help employees with SUD:

Know the signs

Somewhere between 5 and 17 percent of employees have SUDs, which means the chances that one or more of your employees is struggling are high. While people with SUDs certainly do not look or act a certain way, and SUDs do not discriminate – 11 percent of executives have SUDs for example  – there are some signs to watch for. The University of Massachusetts  published this list which can serve as a guide:

  • Abrupt declines in attendance, quality and output of work 
  • General attitude changes and/or irritability 
  • Withdrawal from responsibility 
  • Decline in physical appearance and grooming 
  • Difficulty with concentration and/or memory 
  • Impaired performance on the job—such as errors in judgment—affecting the quality of work or endangering safety 
  • Wearing of sunglasses at inappropriate times to hide dilated or constricted pupils 
  • A change in the employee’s social group, and possibly an association with known substance abusers 
  • Unusual borrowing of money from friends and coworkers 
  • Requests for leave around payday 
  • Theft of small items from the workplace 
  • Excessive breaks during the workday 

Offer support

Prevention and treatment programs have been proven to be effective in improving worker productivity among employees with SUDs. When employees get help, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment reports that unplanned absences decrease by 85 percent and discipline problems decrease by 75 percent. Employers can help employees with SUD by offering safe and effective treatment for their employees who need it.

Understand the impact

From a financial perspective, businesses absorb a large portion of the cost associated with untreated SUDs – mainly healthcare costs and lost productivity due to absenteeism. Plus there are costs associated with the turnover of employees with SUDs who cannot maintain a job. According to the Center for American Progress, the average cost to employers for recruiting and training replacement workers is 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary. SUDs in the workplace also contribute to 65 percent of on-the-job accidents and somewhere between 38 and 50 percent of all workers’ compensation claims. From a culture perspective, employees struggling with SUD have an impact on the entire company – as coworkers struggle to pick up extra assignments or shifts, or find it challenging to work effectively with someone with addiction. Offering SUD treatment as part of your employee health benefits package is a key way to help employees with SUD.Want more information on how to help your employees with SUDs? Email us.