Businesses Can Play a Critical Role in Addressing The Addiction Epidemic

Posted: Updated:

Although it is not something many people realize, drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace is quite prevalent. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports 70 percent of the 14.8 million Americans who abuse drugs are employed. Additionally, 24 percent of workers admit drinking during the day at least once in the past year.

Given the high percentage of employees struggling with drug or alcohol related issues, employers should have a stake in ensuring employees have access to treatment options. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrative replacing an employee costs 25 percent to almost 200 percent of annual compensation - excluding loss of institutional knowledge, productivity, absenteeism and company morale. Ultimately, treatment for employees, with the goal of life-long recovery, should be a top priority for Hoosier businesses.

As many employers have changed insurance companies and coverage plans in the New Year it’s important to understand what options are available to employees in terms of drug and alcohol treatment plans. Businesses need to reach out to those of us in the substance-use disorder field to learn how to help employers navigate the various health insurance programs and to serve as advocates for employees who struggle with addiction. As a partner with employers, treatment centers are focused on helping employers get their employees back with the goal of a healthier and more productive workplace.

Employers can proactively and successfully help employees with substance abuse problems get the help they need by keeping these simple steps in mind:

  • Treat the problem as an employee/HR support issue rather than a strict disciplinary issue and reduce any negative stigma of addiction in the workplace.
  • Educate employees of their benefits, company wellness programs and employee assistance programs (EAPs) that can help with substance-use treatment.
  • Offer support and refer employees to appropriate treatment facilities and programs.
  • Provide employees with a comprehensive health plan that supports a broad range of services and support.

Demand more from your health insurance company and serve as an advocate for your employees by demanding benefits that include mental health and addiction treatment services.

We cannot ignore the fact that Indiana’s drug crisis impacts Hoosier businesses – and that Hoosier businesses can be a part of the solution to Indiana’s addiction issues. Employees who exit the workforce due to untreated, or undertreated, addictions do have options to get help. Together we can educate and empower Hoosier employees to get the support and access to treatment needed so they can continue to work, thrive and survive – for themselves, their families and for our economy. There is hope. Recovery is possible.

Barbara Elliott is president and chief executive officer of Fairbanks.

  • Perspectives

    • Can You Fulfill Your Quest?

      All of us have dragons to slay. At work or at home, in personal or professional relationships, each of us is on a Quest to find the treasure or save the prince/princess. Or perhaps, our goal is more prosaic: getting that promotion, standing up to that bully, or finishing that big project. In his book The Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker lists seven story forms which story tellers employ over and over. Each is plot is linked to a fundamental metaphysical Question that we...



Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • High Schools Launch Manufacturing Businesses

      Two student-run manufacturing businesses have launched in southern Indiana. The companies, Eagle Manufacturing at Brown County High School in Nashville and Lion Manufacturing at Loogootee High School in Martin County, are designed to give students hands-on, real world experience. The businesses were funded with grants from Bloomington-based nonprofit Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, ROI Chief Executive Officer...

    • Buttigieg Launches Presidential Exploratory Committee

      South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has announced he has launched a presidential exploratory committee. The Democrat, who is in his eighth and final year as mayor, served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and ran in 2017 for Democratic National Committee chair. Buttigieg was elected mayor in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. In December, he announced he would not seek a third term. At the time, he would not comment on a possible presidential bid, but said he would continue working...
    • Hoosier Companies Among 'Most Admired'

      Two Indiana companies are included in Fortune's 2019 list of the "World's Most Admired Companies." The list was determined by a survey of nearly 4,000 executives, directors and analysts who rated companies in their own industries based on criteria such as investment value, quality of management and ability to attract talent.

    • Talent Incubator to Open in Anderson

      Muncie-based Ontario Systems will Wednesday open a new tech training center at Anderson University. The incubator, that will be known as "The Cube," will provide students with real-life, hands-on software engineering projects.

    • Hill Reaches $120M Settlement

       Attorney General Curtis Hill has announced a $120 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and DePuy to resolve allegations that DePuy unlawfully promoted its metal-on-metal hip implant devices, the ASR XL and the Pinnacle Ultamet. Under the settlement, Indiana will receive $3.5 million.