Using an EAP to tackle addiction

Addiction in the workplace is a challenge for HR, but EAPs are designed to ease the burden
By Susan Singh
|CHRR, Report on Healthy Workplaces|Last Updated: 04/25/2006

Employees with addictions represent a problem that challenges HR managers like few others. Addictions can masquerade as performance problems and employees can struggle for years to overcome them. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) offer a range of supports and services for managers and employees in dealing with addictions.

Historically EAPs had their origins in programs to help alcoholics, says Toby Levinson, manager of clinical services at Bellwood, a Toronto facility for addiction education and treatment. Gradually EAPs widened their scope to address a broad range of work-life issues. Now any contact with an EAP provider can be the entry point for an employee to begin to confront compulsive behaviours. EAPs also help the employee return to the workplace after counselling or treatment for addictions.

“Our EAP counsellors are trained to tease out a problem with addiction if it exists,” says Judy Plotkin, national business leader with WarrenShepell in Toronto.