What are addiction benefits?
Addiction can be life-altering — not only for the person dealing with addiction, but for everyone in their lives.
Because it can take many forms, the signs of addiction aren’t always obvious. It can look different from person to person. But regardless of how invisible the symptoms are, the impacts can be just as severe.
The impacts of addiction can also make their way into the workplace, sometimes leading to absenteeism, accidents, conflicts, and mistakes. Nearly 10% of workers deal with some form of substance addiction. Over prolonged periods, these issues can have a dramatic effect on company culture, potentially creating an unsafe work environment or fostering tension in professional relationships.
Addiction benefits offer coverage for the treatment of a range of addictions and substance abuses, including alcoholism, prescription drug or opioid dependency, and cigarette addiction. An effective treatment plan might include services like counseling, clinic visits, medications, testing, or home visits. These benefits are designed to support employees through every step of managing addiction, and they provide employees with the resources and tools needed for the recovery process.
How do employees use addiction benefits?
Addiction is a chronic illness — not a character flaw or a moral failing. Just as each health need requires its own unique treatment approach, the right treatment approach will depend on their type of addiction and lifestyle.
Most addiction treatment plans are tailored to the individual’s needs, but they’ll generally include some form of inpatient or outpatient care. Medically supported inpatient care is for the most extreme and at-risk circumstances, whereas standard outpatient care is much more flexible and can take the form of counseling sessions, medication, or clinic visits. Individuals managing severe addiction or psychiatric issues, who might be a risk to themselves or others, may benefit from the resources provided by inpatient care.
Like any other chronic illness, such as heart disease for example, relapse is a normal part of the recovery process and shouldn’t be judged. Addiction has a 40–60% relapse rate. And when relapse occurs, having a steady support system in place can make all the difference.
How do addiction benefits impact employees?
Regardless of the individual’s type of addiction, a comprehensive addiction benefits package meets people where they are to confront their addiction and get on track towards a healthier lifestyle.
A majority of individuals struggling with addiction want to quit, but don’t necessarily have the resources or support to make that change. The CDC reports that 68% of adult smokers want to quit smoking, but less than 8% successfully quit each year. That’s because the process of quitting isn’t linear — the path to successfully managing addiction has both highs and lows, and requires a strong foundation of support.
And having a support system enabled by benefits is key. The inability to quit an addiction can create feelings of shame and embarrassment, as well as significant impacts to mental health. At least one serious mental illness impacts 37% of people who abuse alcohol, as well as 53% of people who abuse drugs. These can affect an employee’s overall wellness and stability, both at work and in their personal life.
Why should employers offer addiction benefits?
The impacts of addiction aren’t limited to emotional and physical tolls — it can also be extremely expensive for both the individual and their employer.
It’s estimated that drug abuse, legal or otherwise, costs employers and workers in the U.S. over $740 billion in a single year, with tobacco and alcohol accounting for nearly 75% of that price tag. This includes medical costs, lost productivity, and crime. And these numbers are only expected to grow over time, especially due to a recent spike in substance abuse brought on by mental health concerns.
Addiction benefits can give employees the support and tools they need to finally quit, while simultaneously showing employees that their employer cares about their wellbeing and saving employers thousands each year.
An employer that helps their employee through the struggles of addiction shows their employee they care about their growth, not only as a worker but as a human being. This can help employers build goodwill, increase retention and attract talent, and invest in a more productive workplace. Employers who offer robust addiction support benefits saw huge increases in productivity:
- 91% decrease in absenteeism
- 88% decrease in problems with supervisors
- 93% decrease in mistakes in work
- 97% decrease in on-the-job injuries
A comprehensive addiction benefits program can help your employees feel looked after and cared for, as well as increase overall productivity, reduce injury, and make for a happier work environment.