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Addiction in the Workplace

Procrastination, low productivity, missed workdays. Employers could see these as symptoms of an inadequate work ethic. But what if there were a deeper issue?


BCBusiness + Orchard Recovery Center

The costs of addiction in the workplace can be high, but dedicating resources to supporting employees through their struggles provides a strong ROI when they return to work at the top of their game. 

Procrastination, low productivity, missed workdays. Employers could see these as symptoms of an inadequate work ethic. But what if there were a deeper issue?

These behaviours—along with workplace injuries, accidents, and emotional instability—are all potential effects of addiction in the workplace. But there is nothing to be gained from letting go of an otherwise good person and employee. Firing someone requires a paper trail of missed days, monitoring productivity, giving warnings and holding HR meetings before acting—and let’s not forget the cost of hiring and training a new employee.

“An employer can decide to make a shift in workplace culture and reallocate those resources into funding addiction treatment, therapy, and mental health and wellness initiatives,” says Lorinda Strang, co-founder and executive director of Orchard Recovery Center. “The results are loyal employees at the top of their game, and there is no better ROI than that.”

Credit: Orchard Recovery Center

Employers must begin with creating a workplace culture in which people feel safe coming forward without punitive repercussions for self-disclosure.

“Ask yourself this,” Strang says. “If you are a manager, are you ready if an employee comes to you with their drug or alcohol struggles?”

If not, head to HR and find out if your company has an Employee Assistance Program in place and what resources the EAP provides for covering the cost of rehab. 

“Orchard Recovery Center has worked with companies that cover a set cost or percentage of inpatient treatment, which is then topped up by the individual,” Strang says. “We have also seen employer payback programs, where the employee slowly pays the cost of treatment back over time.”

Credit: Orchard Recovery Center

Employers can also support employees affected by addiction with a flexible work schedule that allows time to attend counselling sessions or 12-step meetings and make up the missed time at a different hour of the day—this is especially important in the first year of recovery.

“There’s a saying in addiction treatment that you will lose anything you put ahead of your recovery,” Strang says. “Allowing a person to put their recovery first might seem counter-intuitive but taking a bit of time to focus on yourself actually allows you to be a better and more present partner, parent, or employee.”

Credit: Orchard Recovery Center

If rebuilding trust and accountability is required because of a safety sensitive job, choose a treatment center that offers alcohol and drug testing post-treatment.

“We at the Orchard use a digital breathalyzer called Soberlink, as well as other online recovery and accountability tools such as the WEconnect app,” Strang says.
Learn more about Orchard Recovery Center’s programming and services at

Check out the video above or click here for more information about what Orchard Recovery Center can do to help with addiction in the workplace. 

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