Why Employers Should Approach Addicts with Concern, Not Threats

Having suffered from drug and alcohol addiction myself once, and being a successful business owner and entrepreneur, I have a lot of experience with work and with addiction, and with the prospect of hiring somebody who is addicted to drugs and alcohol or finding out that somebody who I hired is addicted to drugs and alcohol.

I feel very strongly about how you should proceed when you do find out that someone you have working for you is abusing drugs and alcohol.  The statistics about addiction are grim today, so it’s very likely that any business with more than ten or twenty employees has an addict within it.  It’s really important that you do not use threats though, or anger, antagonism, rage, or any kind of verbal abuse. Those types of tactics do not work on drug and alcohol addicted individuals, no matter what the old treatment methodologies say. Rather, I would have you use a more proactive approach.

How to Respond When You Find Out an Employee has an Addiction

I am a proponent of any tactic that will improve employee motivation.  When you find out an employee of yours is an addict, here is a step-by-step, quick insight as to how to handle an employee who is addicted to drugs and alcohol:

  • Basically, the first step is to actually do nothing. For a day or two, you need to verify your source. How did you find out that the individual is a drug addict, and how reliable is the source? Verify beyond any reasonable doubt that your employee is actually a substance abuser before you do anything else.
  • Do some research. You don’t want to go in guns blazing with an employee who is addicted to drugs and alcohol if you don’t know anything about addiction yourself. If this is the case, then it would be up to you to do your research and learn a little bit about substance abuse.
  • Compose yourself. It might be a good idea to talk to somebody who you know who is in recovery, and get some help from some other individuals on how you are going to confront your employee.
  • Make a plan for what you are going to do with your employee. Don’t just wing it.
  • Make the decision that you are going to let your employee stay on, as long as they enter into an inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment center first. You do not need to terminate somebody, simply because they are abusing drugs and alcohol. That won’t change anything for them, and then you will have to replace them too.
  • Confront the employee, and be as kind, compassionate, and caring as possible. Tell them what you expect of them, make it clear that you want them to go to a rehabilitation center, and promise them that they will have a job waiting for them afterward if they do. Nine times out of 10, most employees will comply.

This is a win-win situation for everybody. When you go about it this way, people have a lot of success, and most employees actually do end up going to treatment as a result. If you fire them or get angry with them, it will just make things worse. Follow the step-by-step procedure should this happen to you, and I wish you the best of luck.

I am very involved in the addiction rehabilitation field. My hope is to see, within my lifetime, a nation where we do not have to worry about drug and alcohol addiction within our businesses. I really hope this happens. By following the precepts of this article, you’ll actually be contributing to a drug-free nation. It is without a doubt a worthy goal to strive for.

Recovering Addicts: How to Limit Pessimism During Your Job Hunt

All of us have at one point or another felt the effects of having to go out and hunt for a job.  But only a few of us are in recovery and having to experience that same thing.  For those of us in recovery, going into the marketplace and hunting for a job can be an altogether more difficult thing than for those of us who have never struggled with addiction before.  For those of us who actually do need a job but have a history of addiction, sometimes getting that job can be a very difficult prospect.

Drug and alcohol addiction robs us of so much.  What we often forget though is that drug and alcohol addiction continues to rob us of so much even after we have beaten addiction and come out on the other side winning and successful.  What we do not always realize is that drug and alcohol addiction tends to have a lasting effect on us that seems to carry on long after we have stopped using drugs and alcohol.  From my own personal experience and from seeing it in thousands of fellow recovered addicts, drug and alcohol addiction leaves permanent scars.

How Past Addiction Affects Our Present Day Job Hunt

If you have suffered from addiction before, you are probably very familiar with the general feelings and sensations that come about from trying to get through life suffering and struggling with the stigma of addiction and substance abuse in general.  You have probably experienced this for yourself in more ways than one.

When it comes to a job hunt, all a prospective employer has to hear is that you were once an addict and boom, an instant mark against you.  From my perspective, I believe that this ultimately ends up disqualifying about fifty percent of persons in recovery who try to enter back into the workforce.

On the one hand, you can’t really blame employers for being skeptical.  They want what is in their best interests for their company, and if they don’t want to take the risk of hiring an ex-addict, that is on them.  And that is totally fine.  Rather than incriminating or railing against employers and feeling sorry for yourself about how hard it is to get a job once in recovery, I would instead encourage you to try to find strength and resilience in your recovery.  I would instead encourage you to work hard, to make it go right, and to push yourself to be the best that you can be in every way that you can.

Use pessimism as a fuel to the fire that is your need for a job.  Consider the, “It can’t get much worse than this,” principle.  Understand that, if you’ve been turned down because of your history of addiction, that that is simply the way it is and that that sort of thing is going to happen.

Use the pessimism to foster an understanding that all of this is simply a numbers game.  Use your experience with missing job opportunities to understand that it is only a matter of time before a job prospect comes through and you have a chance at a really good job.

What I want you to do is I want you to keep trying.  Remember that every “No” means that you are just one step closer to a “Yes.”  Keep this in mind and just keep at it!  Work on yourself, your pitch, your resume, your appearance, and just keep showing up for job interviews and you will eventually close the deal on a job where your new employer couldn’t care less that you were once an addict.

Should Addicts be Eligible for Disability Benefits

This is a question that has come up time and time again for dispute, and one that not everyone really altogether understands either.  Should drug and alcohol addicts be eligible for disability benefits?  The following paragraph was quoted from a legal attorney’s blog on the subject, and it gives the real data on what exactly does or does not constitute as a disability:

  • “Although drug addiction often substantially impairs a person’s ability to work, an applicant will not be approved for disability on the basis of the drug addiction alone. Even though the effects of substance abuse may prevent an individual from maintaining regular employment, Social Security does not consider substance abuse to be disabling until it causes other irreversible medical conditions. However, this does not mean that you cannot win approval for a physical or mental condition that was caused by a drug addiction. The Social Security Administration (SSA) begins all reviews of claims for disability in the same manner, regardless of the alleged impairment or its cause.”

So, that is the way it is right now.  But should it be that way?  Should addicts be eligible for disability benefits following under the above situations if they are abusing drugs and alcohol?  What is the moral and ethical route to be taken here?

Why Drug and Alcohol Addicts Should NOT be Eligible for Disability Benefits

If a person were to approach you on the street and ask you for money, what would you say?  I would ask the person, “What do you need the money for?”  If the person were to say, “I need money to go buy drugs and alcohol,” would you give them money?  I highly doubt it.  So if that’s how you feel about giving an addict cash money for them to then go buy drugs with, then you should not approve of addicts being able to get any kind of disability benefits, and here’s why:

  • Giving addicts money through disability enables them.  It allows them to continue to have cash on hand to go buy drugs and alcohol and allows them to continue pursuing their addictions.
  • Allowing drug and alcohol addicts to collect disability pushed them further away from them hitting rock bottom, which they need to do if they’re ever going to stop abusing drugs and alcohol.  It gives them a steady stream and cash flow that they can continue to use to buy drugs and alcohol.  It allows them to stay comfortable and relaxed about their substance abuse.  They never run out of money, and they never hit rock bottom.
  • Disability payment to drug addicts is a social program, and with eighty-million Americans on some form of social program and seventeen-trillion dollars in debt, can we as a nation really afford to pay people to abuse drugs and alcohol?  Because that is what we are doing.

An Alternative to Giving Drug Addicts Disability Money

Here’s a better idea.  Completely deny addicts disability pay.  Even if they have a medical condition that they got because of abusing drugs and alcohol.  In fact, if a person has any current connection to drug and alcohol abuse or addiction, just completely disbar them from any kind of disability or government cash flow program.  Then, take that cash that would be enabling addicts to buy drugs and alcohol and instead flow it into creating government-funded, low cost or free addiction treatment programs.  With no money and no cash flow from the Fed, addicts will be looking to alternatives, and when they start feeling withdrawal effects a rehab will suddenly look like a very appealing option.  This option is excellent too because it really handles the problem at its root source.