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Addiction & The Workplace

Alcohol and drug use among employees and their family members can be an expensive problem for businesses in any industry, with issues ranging from lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, and low employee morale, to an increase in health care needs, legal liabilities, and workers’ compensation costs. Recent research has informed us that employees were absent, late, or unproductive 34-43% of working days directly because of their addictions prior to seeking help. For front line medical, workplace, or professional health & safety providers, the presentation of addiction is complex and requires diligence, understanding, and empathy.

Consider the following questions:

  • 1:10 Canadians are dealing with varying degrees of addictions and a significant number of these individuals are employed. How do you identify the employee, claimant, or clinic participant suffering from an addiction in this group?
  • How does your employer group, referral resource, or union work to safely and confidentially acknowledge the individual suffering with an addiction? Share your organizations’ management strategies.
  • How do your intervention strategies vary, based upon the presentation of your client?
  • How do you select treatment for the individual and what should you look for in a provider of addiction services ie: inpatient, outpatient, counselling, monitoring, etc?
  • What constitutes an appropriate and effective medical evaluation?
  • How does clear communication enhance the effectiveness of one’s care continuum?
  • How do you assess the most appropriate course of action when the employee is coming from a safety sensitive environment?
  • What measures do you employ to collaboratively construct a return to work plan that will ensure a safe reintegration for both the individual and your organization that can be sustained over time?
  • How do you manage continuing care for those people who are geographically remote or who travel as part of their work ie: pilots, or oil and gas workers?

Making informed decisions in collaboration with all parties is a critical step towards ensuring the employee’s long term  health, coupled with a sustainable return to work strategy that works for the organizations you serve.

Cedars at Cobble Hill, an addictions treatment centre on Vancouver Island, has developed a program to provide psychoeducational training for professionals dealing with those suffering from addictions. Cedars recognizes the intricacies involved with each individual’s circumstances. This on campus, three day program has been uniquely designed to address the spectrum of issues that arise within an organization when an employee is suffering. You’ll learn how to identify addictions, how they might present in the workplace, and how to handle the situation when it does arise. The program also covers crucial steps like medical evaluations and considerations when choosing the right care path for the affected individual, as well as the goals and expectations of various treatment modalities.

  • Learn to identify addictions often considered as ‘invisible disabilities’.
  • Learn how to differentiate addiction from substance abuse in the workplace.
  • Learn what constitutes an appropriate medical evaluation as an important first step.
  • Chronic Pain & Opioid Use: dependence or addiction?
  • Learn the important considerations when choosing a care path for the affected individual (for whom, when, why, and how long).
  • Understanding the current climate around medicated assisted therapies (MAT) in safety sensitive vocations.
  • Understand the goals of various treatment modalities and what should you expect.
  • Build a continuing care plan, which may include contingency management and why some form of monitoring is a critical piece.
  • Learn to use technology where geographically hard to reach populations are concerned or where you have a mobile workforce.
  • Learn about mutual support groups and the importance of a recovery community.
  • Learn about specific roles in recovery. What is the Employer’s role? The Disability Carrier’s role? The Employee’s role? The Union’s role?
  • What are my blind spots? How do I manage me when managing a file?

Perhaps the most exciting part of this program is collaboration. As a professional on the front-line working with individuals affected by addictions, your experiences have created valuable expertise. Attendees will gain an appreciation for the
continuum of addiction care, far beyond the residential components of treatment.

Attendees will be encouraged to engage in self-reflection, identifying blind spots and learning how to manage themselves while managing a client. All the content has been developed with a modern lens, discussing the current climate surrounding addictions treatment and the important role technology can have in the recovery community.

Substantial value can be found in sharing these experiences with peers who have also encountered similar issues. As such, this program has been created as a platform for professionals to merge their expertise in a collaborative environment through engagement and relationship building. This consolidated knowledge will then help with the creation of a new ‘model’ in how we understand salient issues in the field of addiction, especially how it relates to occupational health.

Through this program, you’ll be able to arm yourself and/or your organization with the education needed to positively address addictions in the workplace and achieve longterm success with Substance Use Disorder issues.