The term “recovery” extends far beyond simply regaining what was lost; it encapsulates a diverse array of experiences, one that 35 million people across the world can attest to.

It may involve healing from physical injuries, seeking solace after the loss of a loved one, or, as millions of individuals around the globe can attest, embarking on a transformative journey to overcome a history of substance use. Recovery signifies the process of improvement, fostering healing, and nurturing personal growth across various dimensions of life. 

Signs of substance abuse in the workplace can include: 

  • Frequent absences 
  • Irregular work hours 
  • Chronic tardiness 
  • Deteriorating work performance 
  • Increased tension or task-based anxiety  
  • Isolation from coworkers  

Substance abuse continues to be a global public health concern, affecting millions of individuals worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 271 million people across the globe were estimated to have used drugs in 2017. Since then, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that those same 35 million people who suffer from drug use disorders will require treatment or intervention at some point.  

The prevalence of substance abuse varies across regions and is influenced by factors such as socioeconomic conditions, accessibility to treatment, and drug availability. Addressing substance abuse and promoting evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies remain crucial in mitigating the adverse effects of this complex global issue. 

Unwavering support can make all the difference in the journey of walking with someone on their path to recovery. Addiction can be debilitating and have negative consequences, affecting both the professional and personal lives of those struggling with addiction. In my role, I have come to understand the profound difference unwavering support can make in the journey of recovery. 

Today, I write to share tips so that you, an important part of your team members’ journey, can not only identify signs of someone struggling with substance abuse, but also provide support in a healthy way. Here are some effective ways in which employers can best support their employees who are recovering from addiction:  

  • Encourage Open Communication: Old environments or routines can be triggering for individuals in recovery. By opening the door to communication, you create a safe space for employees to express their needs and concerns. For example, if networking events once involved toasts with alcoholic beverages, consider offering sparkling water to ensure inclusivity. Everyone’s triggers and comfort levels are different, so take the time to identify how they are feeling and ensure they know you are there to support them. 
  • Provide Education and Training: Raising awareness about addiction and its impact is crucial for creating a supportive workplace. Offering educational programs and training sessions equips managers and supervisors with the knowledge and skills needed to recognize signs of addiction, provide appropriate support, and refer employees to professional resources. Education fosters understanding and empathy, paving the way for a compassionate workplace environment. 
  • Develop a Supportive Workplace Policy: Establish clear policies that support employees in recovery. This may include flexible work schedules, time off for counseling or therapy sessions, and reasonable accommodation for treatment needs. Ensure confidentiality and non-discrimination policies are in place to protect employees’ privacy and prevent stigmatization. A supportive workplace policy is instrumental in creating an inclusive and caring work environment. 
  • Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Enhance or implement existing EAPs that provide confidential counseling, referrals to treatment facilities, and ongoing support. EAPs can serve as a vital resource for employees seeking assistance with addiction-related challenges. Having a well-structured EAP in place demonstrates the organization’s commitment to the well-being of its employees. 

When supporting someone recovering from addiction you should: 

  • Maintain a Non-judgmental Approach: Embrace a compassionate and non-judgmental attitude towards employees in recovery. Understand that addiction is a complex issue and focus on supporting their efforts to maintain sobriety rather than dwelling on past mistakes. Your understanding and empathy can make a significant impact on their journey. 
  • Celebrate Milestones and Progress: Recognize and celebrate employees’ milestones and progress in their recovery journey. Acknowledging their achievements can boost morale, reinforce a positive workplace culture, and provide motivation for continued growth and commitment. Celebrating milestones fosters a sense of accomplishment and support. 
  • Foster a Healthy and Inclusive Work Environment: Promote wellness initiatives, such as exercise programs, mindfulness activities, and access to mental health resources. Encourage a workplace culture that values balance, self-care, and overall well-being to help provide a sense of community, understanding, and accountability. An inclusive work environment is essential in promoting a sense of belonging and support. 

Recovering from addiction is a challenging journey that requires support from multiple sources, including the workplace. Employers have the opportunity to play a crucial role in fostering an environment of understanding, empathy, and assistance. By implementing these supportive strategies, employers can not only assist their staff members in their recovery but also contribute to a healthier, more compassionate, and inclusive work environment so that individuals can thrive and flourish in all facets of life.  

Kyle Smith
CEO at 12 South Recovery | Website | + posts