All Employers with more than a handful of staff employ people with addiction problems in their workforce. Addictive illness — defined as an inherent inability to control one’s use of alcohol, drugs or food — afflicts 20% of the adult population of this country and incurs massive costs for business in terms of lost productivity, absenteeism, fraud and unnecessary re-training due to loss of valuable skills.
On a daily basis, addiction counsellors hear of the consequences of addictive behaviour, as recovering people recount their experiences in therapy sessions.
In the last few months,we have heard harrowing tales of dangerous machinery being operated by a drinking alcoholic, a medium sized entertainment business being driven close to bankruptcy by the theft of funds by a using Heroin Addict, a top engineer with his lifetime of training dismissed after stealing a bottle of whisky from a supermarket…and many more.
The addict or alcoholic conforms to no stereotype: he/she may as easily be the thrusting young graduate whose erratic performance is causing concern, as the more expected “haggard old man in the post room with the shaky hands”.
Jack is aged 44. Two years ago his small light engineering firm in Greater Manchester, which had been started by his father was in crisis — Jack’s drinking made him inattentive to management responsibilities and continually drained their cash reserves. Drinking the equivalent of 1 1/2 bottles of spirits every day, he had been to Alcoholics Anonymous and had had hospital detoxification twice without any lasting change.
Jack’s turning point came with his admission to Pierpoint House Treatment Centre, where he gained insight into his behavioural patterns and received a set of “tools for recovery” which he uses to stay sober on a daily basis. Jack’s business — and his life — are now manageable.
Peter, a 37 year old computer programmer, resigned from his job just before he could have been dismissed. Seeing an advert in the local press he referred himself to Pierpoint and began for the first time in his life to experience care and respect,-his valuable technical skills are now available again for another employer, once Peter feels strong enough to return to employment.
Mike, aged 26, who is employed by a Government Department as a Clerical Officer, began to use ‘Acid’ tablets and Amphetamines with his friends when he was 16. Rapidly progressing to Heroin, Mike was unable to control his use of drugs and his attendance record and accuracy at work collapsed.
Although his Community Drug Team attempted to help him with Methadone, it was only an admission into residential treatment which got him clean from all drugs and into a daily recovery programme. He is now back at work and in recovery.
An Illness – NOT a weakness
People who misuse alcohol, drugs or food in such a way that their lives become unmanageable are not in our experience weak people, evil people or incapable of recovery;- they suffer from a constitutional inability to control any mood-altering substance (despite a desperate desire to be able to do so).
They require appropriate help and treatment to enable them to achieve and maintain abstinence from ALL addictive substances.
The wide availability and social acceptance of many illegal drugs nowadays means that increasing numbers of people with addictive illness are using cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin with now more and more people turning to alcohol.
There are also countless ”prescription addicts” in the workplace, hooked on pills many years ago and now caught in an addictive cycle, perhaps working alongside a young woman whose addiction to food is expressed in bulimia- a vicious cycle of bingeing,vomiting and purging which destroy’s a person’s self-worth just as rapidly as heroin addiction.
Addictive illness, whether expressed in alcohol abuse, drug addiction, bulimia, compulsive gambling etc-is clearly an immense handicap to British business and yet Employers are only just beginning to see the benefits of enabling an effective intervention to take place.
Work-based Employee Assistance Programmes can be set up even in fairly small firms, with experienced Addiction Counsellors offering help on a consultancy basis both to employees with addiction problems, and to train management into identifying these difficulties at an early stage.
When a problem is identified, the employer may wish to consider making funds available for a 6 to 12-weeks residential treatment programme to achieve the best possible outcome of a successful intervention, and help protect the most valued asset in any business-human resources, skills and lives.
If you feel one of your employees is struggling with addiction call us on 0845 458 3700 and ask for ADAWS (Alcohol Drug At Work Solutions) Team.
07426 802769 ask for Mark or Laura