Counseling Services Firm Kicks Off Workplace Addiction Treatment Effort

December 4, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A quarter of HR professionals are nervous about hiring recovering drug addicts or alcoholics even though nearly nine in 10 (89%) say treatment is an effective way to fight addiction.

That was a key finding of a new Workplace Addiction Survey by Minnesota-based Hazelden Foundation, an addition counseling services provider, as the group launched a new PR campaign designed to convince more employers to direct addicted employees into treatment programs.

“Alcoholism and drug addiction are indeed chronic, potentially fatal diseases if not treated,” said William Moyers, VP-External Affairs for Hazelden. “Our survey reveals a stunning disconnect in corporate America: HR professionals recognize that addiction treatment works and know that recovering employees come back after treatment as productive members of their companies. Yet at many companies, these enlightened beliefs aren’t translated into the practice of directing employees into treatment, thanks to the stigma of addiction and a lack of knowledge about it.”

However, the Hazelden poll of 200 U.S. companies was not without its good news:

  • 89% of respondents believe that treatment programs are effective in helping employees beat addiction
  • Almost all (84%) of the HR professionals surveyed considered addiction a chronic illness/disease
  • More than eight in 10 would recommend treatment for an addicted executive or a rank-and-file worker alike, rather than firing them
  • An overwhelming 93.5% of respondents believe that employees at their companies have easy/very easy access to addiction treatment once workers accept they need it
  • Nearly three quarters (72.6%) of respondents believe that employees who sought treatment later returned to work as productive members of the workforce.

On the downside, the poll found that 60.5% of the HR professionals surveyed believed addiction significantly affects employees in their workplaces – citing absenteeism and reduced productivity. However, those same executive highlighted barriers keeping them from suggesting chemical dependency treatment to employees:

  • Over half (54%) reported a lack of experience or expertise in knowing how to identify addiction.
  • More than one-third (36%) reported a lack of experience or expertise in knowing how to get treatment
  • One-quarter (25%) reported a belief at their company that it is just easier in the long run to terminate an addicted employee vs. getting them treatment
  • One-quarter (25.5%) reported a belief at their company that treatment is too expensive.

For more information, go to www.hazeldon.org .

«