HONEST, OPENMINDED AND WORKING –
July 13, 2021 – The extraordinary effort to combat and end the COVID pandemic included a massive public information drive to educate and inform people about the disease and how to protect against it. That effort paid off, and the nation is opening up again. But there is another health crisis that continues to threaten business and the nation: alcohol and substance use disorders (AUD and SUD, the new official names for addiction). However you want to define it, the fact is that addiction in the workplace costs U.S. businesses and organizations $81 billion a year in lost profits.
Nearly all businesses are affected because addiction is everywhere. In addition to the purely financial costs, there’s also the devastating impact of addiction on the mental and emotional health of employees and family members. When family members and employees are dealing with addiction, whether alcohol or substance, they have difficulty focusing on work requirements. Absenteeism, working while impaired or hungover. or just working while worried about a loved one all can create work conflicts that employees simply can’t talk about. Many people feel hopeless about this disease, literally abandoned and alone. Only 10% of people who need treatment receive it. Addiction is a big, open secret that isn’t addressed as a matter of cultural importance or priority in American business.
The result is that addiction stigma in business and education, and even health care environments, has created a roadblock to developing solutions. Businesses have the power and influence to combat addiction just as they have worked to combat AIDs, fight for gay rights and defeat breast cancer, to cite just a few social and health issues. Many businesses over the years have put their muscle and advertising dollars toward positive messaging and support for worthy causes, and it’s made a difference.