How To Create A Recovery-Positive Workplace

Every aspect of American life is affected by the rise in drug and alcohol abuse, including the workforce. Employers and business owners need to prepare the workplace to handle this widespread health crisis. You might think it is a better business decision to fire an addict than keep him employed, but in fact, companies that create a recovery-positive environment experience growth.


The price of dismissal

Despite the fact that addiction has been diagnosed as a medical disorder, the professional world still responds to addiction as if it is a lifestyle choice. Obviously, we are not suggesting that substance abuse is permitted in the workplace. But firing an addict could be a poor business decision. It costs about 20% of an employee’s salary to fire them, in the form of severance, unemployment, and hiring and training a replacement.


The benefits of keeping an addicted employee

Business owners and employers have to ask themselves if it is a better financial decision to keep employees with addiction issues or pay the cost to replace them. Some of the benefits of maintaining the addict employee include:

  1. The cost and time off for an employee’s recovery (such as a 30 to a 90-day inpatient stay at a rehabilitation center) are much smaller than the cost to replace the employee.
  2. Replacing an addicted employee runs the risk of getting a less experienced, less productive team member in their place. With your current employee, they might be an addict, but you know them and how they fit into your business culture and their contribution to the team.
  3. By investing in your employee’s health and recovery, you are investing in them as an employee and person. Often this investment will be returned in the form of an improved, experienced employee with more loyalty to the employer. By promoting a recovery-positive workplace, you are promoting company loyalty and worker satisfaction.



Despite personal beliefs or business practices, all employers are required by law to provide accommodation to employees who struggle with addiction. Although addiction is not classified as a disability by The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title I of the ADA outlines certain workplace protections to employees in addiction recovery. This article does not address the many complexities of the legalities of supporting employees with addiction. If you have questions about ADA guidelines, refer to the ADA website or speak to a legal professional about your business.

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