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Addiction treatment in the workplace

Due to stigmas and stereotypes, addictions are often seen as problems for the irresponsible or those who have ‘fallen off the wagon.’ This perception couldn’t be more wrong; addiction can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of failure or weakness but is a result of many factors, some that we have control over, and many which we don’t.

Substance abuse is often seen as an issue unrelated to the workplace, but that shouldn’t be the case. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, approximately 77% of people struggling with addictions are employed. So why should employers care? Let’s look at some statistics:

  • Productivity losses due to alcohol and drug addiction costs Canadian employers approximately $24.3 billion per year
  • Employees suffering from an addiction are 3.5 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident
  • Employees suffering from an addiction reported being absent, late or unproductive 34 – 43% of working days
  • Employees suffering from an addiction function at about 66% less of their capacity

(http://www.bellwood.ca/addiction-treatment-cost.php)

The above statistics reveal why addictions are not just the problem of those suffering. Addictions are the problem of employers too and should be appropriately addressed in the workplace. But how?

By developing programs and putting resources towards counselling, assistance, and peer support, employers can foster environments where employees can easily access help. This, in turn, will result in safer work environments, better productivity, better performance, and improved employee morale.

At Teamsters 987, we truly believe that addressing addictions in the workplace not only serves as a benefit to the employee but to the employer as well. We want to see workplaces dedicated to supporting employees. We want to see employers committed to fostering healthy environments that encourage open discussions. We want to see workplaces that have resources readily available to employees who may be struggling.

We are moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go before we see enough support in workplaces across Alberta. Your Teamsters 987 family will continue to strive for healthier work environments, and we’re hopeful for a future of better employee support.

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