Did you know that 70% of people struggling with addiction are employed?  This doesn’t correlate with the stereotype that people who abuse substances are typically deviants that don’t engage in society like the rest of us.

Isabelle Wettergren, Health and Wellness Coach and Addictions Awareness Facilitator, shares some truths about addiction and the importance of discussing a topic many shy away from.  Read some highlights below, or listen to the full conversation by clicking on the link at the bottom of the post.

Understanding Addiction in the Workplace

While we may immediately think of drugs and alcohol, addiction can include any behaviour involving a loss of control.  Excessive caffeine, gaming, gambling, and even television can become addictive.  Although negative consequences may be associated with the behaviour and recognition that it may be too much, the behaviour continues due to a chemical change in the brain.  It’s, therefore, very important to emphasize that people dealing with addictions may not have a lack of self-will to make a change.

In some cases, addictions are rooted in behaviours that initially help individuals cope or provide relief.  For instance, it may be something one does as a way to manage stress or in response to boredom.  There is a fine line between a coping mechanism and an addictive behaviour.

Concerns about behavioural addictions as a result of the pandemic lock-down and physical distancing measures are emerging.  For example, one recent study found that 87% people reported increase in its in social media usage with 75% spending increasing amount of time on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

The Role of the Employer

Loss of productivity, absenteeism, and turnover are just some of the costs to the workplace resulting from keeping addiction silent.  Employers tend to be reluctant to discuss addiction – as is much of society – but there is an essential need to include addiction as part of the corporate plan for workplace wellness.

Education and awareness are major components of both prevention and management strategies.  Reducing the stigma associated with addiction and arming individuals with the information and resources they need starts with the ability to have open conversation.

Ensure that employees are aware of what addiction really means and that they are not alone if they are dealing with an addictive behaviour.  Help them understand how to recognize when a behaviour has become a problem.  Know how to accommodate addiction in your workplace rather than simply discipline and penalize if an employee has the courage to open up about the issue.

Here are a few tips related to dealing with employee addictions:

  • Incorporate addiction into your wellness plan. It’s important to note that it’s not a standalone piece.  Addictive behaviours are related to mental health and wellness.
  • Educate leadership to know the signs of addiction and provide training on how to appropriately address the situation. Be knowledgeable about legal matters related to certain addictions.
  • Offer support by ensuring employees know about resources, programs, and services they can leverage as they recover. Have policies in place to create return-to-work action steps if they’ve had to take time off.

A very timely piece as we deal with the ongoing pandemic, is communicating information about addictive behaviours with employees – perhaps especially those that have been working remotely.  Individuals may have adopted some of the coping mechanisms mentioned earlier and may not realize that they could be nurturing addictive behaviours.  Start the conversation!

Listen to the full conversation with Isabelle Wettergren!

Need some more assistance?

Get your FREE Corporate Wellness Membership 90-Day Starter Kit to get you started!  Employee Wellness Solutions Network can help you create a healthier culture resulting in a more profitable and successful workplace. Our memberships give you access to services including corporate wellness specialists, trainers and health coaches to help you create the best strategy for your organization.  To learn more about the memberships, visit Employee Wellness Solutions Network.