Addiction is a complex and multi-faceted problem which requires individualized treatment. Collectively, roughly $85 billion is spent to treat injuries, infections and illnesses associated with risky and dependent substance use.
Interested in learning how to reduce the cost and empower your employees to face their substance use disorders? Let’s dive into the 4 tips to jumpstart your efforts.
Tip 1: Destigmatize Addiction
Science has proven that substance use disorder is a chronic brain disease that can be managed with medical treatment. It is NOT a moral failing or character flaw. Yet, only one in 10 Americans with a substance use disorder receive treatment. The fact that addiction is highly stigmatized is fueling an American public health crisis that takes hundreds of lives every day. We can begin to reverse the stigma behind persons with substance use disorders (SUDs) through conscious and purposeful action, and by providing cost-effective and useful tools in the workplace that will help employees with SUD successfully recover from addiction.
Steps to destigmatize addiction in your organization include:
- Educate your population by working with institutions and influencers to reduce stigma and help change how people think and feel about addiction.
- Commit to transparent reporting on actions taken to reduce stigma. Rewarding positive behavior is a powerful motivator.
- Alter language used in the workplace to focus on person first language which does not define a person by their medical disorder. Person first language is neutral, making the diagnosis purely clinical.
- Break down barriers by providing safe and comfortable communication channels both in person and online.
Tip 2: Employ Modern Technology
Research has demonstrated that technology-based tools for the treatment of substance use disorders can be as effective as science-based programs delivered by highly trained clinicians.
Employing technology can improve substance abuse and prevention treatment in a way that is cost-effective and increases reach to a broader population, including the nine in 10 people with substance use disorders who aren’t in treatment.
Benefits of utilizing modern technology include:
- Immediate access to care and education for employees allows treatment to reach the individual in the exact moment that they need treatment.
- Avoiding the stigma of visiting a clinic in-person, which can be a barrier for many.
- Ability to connect while on the go will help employees access the educational material they need more frequently.
- Ability for employees to easily track their own behaviors to help understand their patterns and triggers.
Tip 3: Offer Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
MAT encompasses the use of medication in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a holistic approach to treating substance use disorders. It utilizes FDA-approved medications and its programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s unique needs. During MAT treatment, medications are prescribed to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opiates, relieve psychological cravings and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the misused substances. MAT can help patients sustain their recovery.
MAT has been proven to:
- Improve patient survival.
- Increase retention in treatment.
- Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders.
- Increase a patient’s ability to gain and maintain employment.
Tip 4: Deliver Psychological Support Throughout the Journey
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), often used in combination with Medication-Assisted Treatment, is the gold standard treatment approach for addiction and is based on the premise that people can learn to recognize and change the maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which can drive addiction.
Addiction rarely presents as a problem on its own, and due to the high prevalence of comorbidities and associated risk of relapse, the ability to connect with a qualified therapist for emotional support throughout the journey is crucial to recovery success.
Qualified behavioral therapists can connect with patients to:
- Show care and concern for the welfare of people who experience addiction.
- Help to reduce stigma, and increase confidence and self-efficacy in an individual’s ability to recover.
- Help individuals build awareness of the nature of their addiction and their existing skills, whilst helping them develop new strategies and coping techniques to manage their addiction symptoms (e.g triggers and cravings) and other associated emotions.
- Reduce consumption of alcohol and other drugs, improve overall health status, reduce anti-social behavior and improve participation in the general community.
When we put humans first, we all find success. Following these tips will help you drive down costs brought on by addiction in the workforce and drive up health and productivity among your employees.
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