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10 Ways to Help an Employee with Addiction Problems

Addiction and Employees

Employers should bear in mind that ignoring an employee with an alcohol or drug addiction in the workplace will make professional life difficult for co-workers and lower team morale and productivity. But approaching someone to discuss their drug or alcohol addiction problem is difficult.  

The following 10 steps will help you feel prepared when approaching the issue with someone you work with who has a problem with drugs or alcohol, and help increase the chance of a positive outcome:

  1. Recognising the problem early on. Acting early in regard to the problem is imperative, as early interventions have greater success. It is important to be able to recognise the symptoms of addiction in an employee. Do not ignore the problem until it is too late. Addiction does not go away on its own.
  2. Do not take on responsibility for their problem. You can help them to find the resources that can support them offer help and support, but it is up to them to recognise that they have a problem and to seek the appropriate help.
  3. Staging an early intervention is important if you want to help the employee to make a full recovery. If these problems are showing at work, you can be sure that it is already affecting your colleague’s family life. The earlier an intervention is made, the better the outcome for your colleague’s health, career and personal life.
  4. Explain that addiction is a disease, rather than a character flaw, or moral failing, and that help is available to get their lives back on track.
  5. Persuade your employee in a gentle, caring manner, of the need to access rehab treatment. Avoid an accusing tone and begin by telling them you are worried about them. Expect to encounter denial and defensiveness.
  6. Be prepared with facts and specific examples of negative behaviour caused by their addiction problem. For example, instead of saying, “I think you drink too much,” you could say, “You were slurring your words in the client meeting on Thursday.”
  7. Tell the employee about the negative effects their addiction problem is having on their productivity, as well as its influence on their colleagues, and the overall success of the company.
  8. Use leverage/bargain with them in order to persuade them to get help. Calmly offer them the choice between accessing treatment and risking their employment at the company. Make it clear that you wish to support them throughout this period and that you want them to get better, but things cannot go on as they are.
  9. Offer them more information and professional help. Be prepared to offer them the contact details of the company doctor, Occupational Health Physician, or counsellor. Obtain the contact details of rehab clinics or other organisations offering addiction treatment.
  10. Make it clear to them that by ignoring their problem they will only deteriorate further, both mentally and physically.

Expert Intervention Support and Rehab Treatment

Fortunately, professional help is only a phone call away. At Smarmore Castle, we offer:

  • Assessment of the employee’s addiction problems,
  • Advice for companies, head management, and HR staff on how to manage the situation effectively,
  • Help to organise an intervention,
  • Intensive, inpatient treatment at our residential rehab facility, near Dublin.

For more information about how to help an employee suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, please call our admissions team, who are available 24/7 to answer your queries.

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Last updated & clinically assessed 16 February, 2022