Resources for Employers/EAPs

Because an employee is not a close friend or family member, they can be the most difficult to approach. That’s why seeking the help of a professional or accessing professional resources is recommended. A great place to start is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.samhsa.gov/

In addition to doing your homework through SAMSHA’s portal or even through a local resource like AMIRF, you should understand that approaching an employee is not going to be easy, regardless of the circumstances. In most cases, he will react defensively and perhaps angrily. You should be ready for it. No one likes to be accused of something that continues to have such a stigma in the workplace, so be prepared by:

  • Seeking the advice of a local recovery professional;
  • Speaking with and learning from someone you know who is in recovery now; and
  • Turning to organizations like A Man in Recovery – we can help!

If, as an employer, you are the only one who’s noticed the frequent absenteeism, tardiness, sloppy work or even alcoholic behavior at work, then you might consider approaching someone who you believe is the employee’s closest friend at work to help draw out the admission. In all cases, DO NOT gossip about it and be discrete. Don’t expect the employee to admit to his problem on first approach. It may take several conversations, “walks around the block,” or friendly lunches to help him admit he has a problem with alcohol or drugs.

In approaching the employee, let him know that he has options – alternatives that can help him address his problems with drinking or drugging. If your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), then steer him in that direction, encouraging him to get the help he needs. If not, then try to get him to a facility that can perform a thorough and professional assessment, determining the best course of treatment such as Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), often held in the evening hours, allowing him less time away from work and greater discretion.

Surprisingly, alcohol and some substances like benzodiazepines (Klonopin, Xanax and Valium, for instance) can often require a medical detox, supervised by a medical professional. In terms of alcohol, those who drink two or three drinks every evening but don’t have any symptoms in the morning may not experience withdrawal if they discontinue drinking. But for those who drink more consistently and heavily (more than three drinks every evening or drinking throughout the day and evening), stopping alcohol use abruptly can be dangerous, resulting in seizures, possible stroke or heart trouble.

Finally, if the employee is posing a danger to himself or to others, you should absolutely intervene.