Programme launched to stem workplace addiction crisis

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Guest post by Claire Harvey

The leading addiction treatment specialists UKAT have launched a free addiction awareness programme for businesses large and small across the country.

The programme is set to support the employers and employees of all types of business as the Government is encouraging those who can, to work from home during the current Coronavirus crisis, during which it is revealed that more people than ever are seeking treatment for drug and alcohol misuse.

Experts at UKAT warn any dependencies to drugs or alcohol developed during the crisis could be exacerbated as society faces uncertainty over their job security.

Eventually, this could result in rising sickness and absence rates once employees are back in the workplace. One particular substance widely associated with workplace stress is alcohol.

UKAT has revealed that between April and August this year, they’ve admitted more clients for alcohol addiction than they did in the same time period of previous years.

Looking after staff’s mental wellbeing is not just beneficial for them, it’s beneficial for the business Nuno Albuquerque

Between April and August 2020, 79% of all admissions were for alcohol addiction. This is compared to the same four months of 2017, where only 56 per cent of all admissions were for alcohol issues.

This, they say, could present real problems for employers. People could turn to alcohol heavily to cope with the stress. Added pressure from job security and the fear of redundancy could turn people to alcohol as a coping strategy.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) says that all organisations can benefit from agreed policies on drug and alcohol misuse and they recommend that employers identify problems and take measurable action to protect their staff.

This is where the UK Addiction Treatment Group Addiction Awareness Programme can help. The programme is free, delivered by a Certified Drug and Alcohol Therapist on site or virtually and engages and educates staff on the signs, symptoms, and local support services available.

UKAT’s Head of Treatment, Nuno Albuquerque, above, said: “Looking after staff’s mental wellbeing is not just beneficial for them, it’s beneficial for the business too. Employees who feel supported by management will always find it easier to stay in work or return quicker after any absences, which ultimately saves the business money.

“Those who are uncomfortable in opening up about addiction are likely to suffer in silence, which could lead to them being unable to carry out their duties, increasing the possibility of a health and safety risk.

“We understand that this is a sensitive subject and one that should be discussed with experts. That’s what we’re here to do. Together, we can help your employees and in turn, help you and your business thrive during these difficult times.”

A survey by DrugScope and Alcohol Concern found that 27% of employers said drug misuse was a problem at work and that 60% have experienced problems due to staff drinking alcohol.

Nuno concludes: “We are a country of hard workers, and the Coronavirus crisis has had to change everyone’s routines and normality. During these unprecedented times, some will struggle and some will turn to substances like alcohol to cope with the fear and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.

“Addiction does not discriminate and can hit anyone hard. What is important is that employers who care about the mental health and wellbeing of their employees take proactive steps now to mitigate their own crisis further down the line.”

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