If you’re not offering your employees substance use disorder (SUD) treatment benefits as part of your healthcare coverage, you’re probably losing money. Despite the fact 20.7 million Americans, or approximately 8 percent of the U.S. population, are in need of SUD treatment, only 4 million people, or 19 percent, actually receive treatment. That means, chances are quite high that untreated SUDs are impacting your workplace. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), almost 11 million full-time workers in the United States have a substance abuse disorder (SUD).

American businesses are impacted by untreated SUDs through healthcare costs, absenteeism, and lost productivity. In fact, the impact from the loss of productivity equals a whopping $130 billion annually according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In addition, SUDs in the workplace contribute to 65 percent of on-the-job accidents and somewhere between 38 and 50 percent of all workers’ compensation claims, per the United States Department of Labor. Meanwhile, the National Safety Council reports that Americans struggling with opioid addiction miss approximately 50 percent more work than other employees.

The good news is that 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. 

And addressing SUDs at work is not just smart business, it’s just plain smart: an employee with an SUD is at risk financially and emotionally and their place of employment can play a front line role in supporting them. It’s also good for the company culture. Employees struggling with SUDs can have a trickle-down effect on their coworkers who may have to pick up extra assignments or shifts, or may find it challenging to work effectively with someone with addiction. Plus, when employees see that their employers offer treatment and or support, they are more likely to address any issues that may be impacting their performance.

Savvy businesses are including telehealth options in their plans. That’s because  telehealth  is one of the most effective ways to reach and treat  people with SUDs. It’s also one of the most effective ways to support recovery. With a telehealth solution, people can seek and receive treatment from the privacy of their home or even a quiet conference room. Receiving treatment from a private, comfortable and familiar setting, reduces a major barrier to seeking help.  

Also, it’s flexible. When you take away the need to commute to and from treatment and you add in options for different times of the day, treatment becomes a much more realistic option for employed people who may have been wondering how to get the help they need without signaling to their employers that there is a problem.Are you losing money because you have failed  to address SUDs in your workplace? You don’t have to. You have better options than ignoring the problem. Need help with the next step? Email us.