There are over 23 million Americans in recovery from substance abuse. Because many individuals choose to experience their recovery privately, it is important for every workplace to establish a culture and systems designed to support those in recovery. Not only are those in recovery a valuable asset to your workplace, but your workplace can serve as a valuable asset to their recovery. Additionally, many accommodations are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The most important step any employer can take to generate a recovery ready workplace is to eliminate all drug and alcohol use or distribution. Beyond that, follow these steps to support those in recovery:
Provide Time: If an individual asks for time away from their immediate work duties for a recovery or wellness related activity (counseling, meetings, yoga, in-patient care, etc), provide it without any difficulty, consequences or questions asked. They are not asking for “time off.” The time spent at these types of activities will ultimately increase your employee’s productivity, not decrease it.
Reduce Stress: Any steps you can take to reduce workplace stress will serve ALL employees, including those in recovery. There are many obvious stress reducing changes such as relaxing deadlines, quotas or work schedules. But there may be some less obvious changes that are unique to each place of employment , such as: increasing parking, adding a gym, or having a daycare. Find out what stressors exist in your workplace and take steps to eliminate them.
Support a Clean Culture: Does your company’s social culture revolve around getting a beer after work? Is there alcohol at company functions and parties? It’s very difficult to work somewhere where you just don’t “fit in” and all too often that means heading to the bar after work. Although you can’t eliminate the “beer after work” contingent, you can offer alternative opportunities for co-workers to socialize. Help facilitate the formation of alternative social groups by organizing community service projects, group fitness classes, and groups for people who share a common interest or hobby.
Educate and Celebrate: Take the time to educate your employees about substance abuse, substance abuse disorders, prevention, treatment and recovery. Through education you can foster compassion and understanding for those in recovery or otherwise struggling with a substance abuse disorder. Educate your supervisors on appropriate ways of addressing substance abuse disorders. Most importantly, in whatever way possible, celebrate those who are in recovery. A workplace cannot be recovery ready unless it is actively working to de-stigmatize substance use disorders.
If you need assistance eliminating substance use from your workplace, establishing a recovery friendly culture, or educating employees and supervisors, contact us.