One of many things the ongoing opioid crisis has brought to light is that addiction, of all kinds, knows no boundaries. It impacts people of all races and income levels, those who live in cities and those residing in the suburbs, the young and the not-so-young. Because of this, it also impacts businesses of every size and across every sector. And, in many cases, it’s a problem employers are not fully aware of and are not adequately equipped to handle. Experts on the subject strongly suggest that they educate themselves on all aspects of this issue, because they could pay a steep price — in many different ways — if they are not properly prepared.
Rene Pinero (pictured on left, standing on right) says antiquated beliefs persist about individuals who become addicted to alcohol or drugs, despite recent headlines and ample evidence to the contrary.
“People think they’re homeless, don’t work, and have a low level of education,” Pinero, clinical director for Outpatient Behavioral Health at the Center for Human Development (CHD), told BusinessWest. “If you ask someone to describe an addict, they may paint that picture, but they don’t realize it can happen to anyone, and they don’t think about professionals such as doctors and lawyers.
“Addiction is a medical condition, like diabetes or hypertension,” he went on. “And well-educated people who have good resources are able to hide their problems better than those who don’t.”
Amy Royal (pictured on right) agreed. “There are high-functioning people with addiction problems who are really good at concealing it,” said the founding partner of Royal, P.C. in Northampton, whose law practice deals exclusively with employment law and representing businesses.
But whether addiction is obvious or goes unnoticed for a long period of time, it has a profound effect on the workplace. Studies show addiction costs employers roughly $250 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, attrition, safety issues, worker’s compensation claims, and hidden healthcare expenditures.