EAP’s Role in Facing Addiction in the Workplace | EAPA-SA

The Many Facets of Addiction

In addition to substance abuse or addiction to drugs and alcohol, people can develop behavioural addictions which include the Internet and social media, video games, pornography, sex, body image, exercise, shopping or eating, to name but a few.

When people experience these types of addictions, they typically feel guilt, shame and embarrassment. To make matters worse, substance abuse and addictions are disorders that are stigmatised in a way that leads to the disregard of countless individuals who may be struggling with what could be a fatal disease. The truth is that addiction can affect any person regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status, culture, ethnicity or religion.

One sector of addicted employees that are regularly overlooked are workers who may appear to be high-functioning in the workplace and give little indication of an addiction problem. The reality is that addiction and substance use disorders infiltrate countless organisations via its employees, making their lives increasingly unmanageable and affecting the quality of their work.


Defining EAP’s Role

Thankfully, there are several resources and programmes available that can help employers more effectively address the issue of addiction in their workforce, with workplace prevention and intervention programmes being an effective method for addressing substance use among employees.

Born out of occupational alcoholism programmes developed in the USA in the early 1940s, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are one resource that has been shown to be highly effective in addressing addiction issues.

The Following Are Some Major Benefits of EAP Programmes:

Total Confidentiality: Firstly, employee treatment assistance programmes allow those who are dealing with drug and alcohol addiction a safe and confidential environment in which to discuss significant personal issues such as addiction. When an employee makes use of an EAP program, the employer is not notified, and the employee making use of this service does not have to worry about endangering their job status or enduring the consequences due to the stigma attached to addiction.

Immediate Assistance: In the event that an employee needs to make an appointment, they can arrange to meet with an EAP professional within a relatively short time frame–usually within a few days.

Access to Extensive Resources: A person’s substance abuse is often the result of stressors from outside of the workplace. Many EAPs offer employees help in a variety of areas that impact on overcoming their addiction and assist in maintaining their job performance – issues that may range from marital problems or financial strain, to the death of a loved one.

Benefits to the employer: Most importantly, EAPs have benefits for the employer. EAP programmes are proven to significantly reduce absenteeism and have a positive impact improving employee health and morale, and on decreasing employee turnover.1

South African alcohol and drug consumption statistics

United Nations World Drug Report 2014
While there is no substantiated drug-use research available out of South Africa, according to fact verification organisation www.africacheck.org, drug use statistics reported by the United Nations World Drug Report of 2014, reveal that drug abuse remains a growing problem in South Africa with 7.06% of our population abusing narcotics of some kind. This equates to one in every 14 people using drugs, adding up to a total of 3.74 million people (taken as a percentage of the population as of 2013). According to the report, out of all people treated for addiction, 18.8% were found to be heroin users, with Methamphetamine users totalling 22.9% and a staggering 38.4% were people treated for Cannabis dependence. 5.7% used Cocaine on a regular basis, prescription stimulant dependence made up a total of 5.4% of persons treated, with Ecstasy making up 0.3% and Hallucinogen dependence standing at 3.2%.2

World Health Organisation Alcohol Report 2015
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) South Africa’s alcohol consumption rate has escalated, with the country now ranked as one of the top 20 biggest drinking nations in the world. This is according to a statistical update from the World Health Organization, tracking alcohol consumption per capita, across 194 countries. The data shows that in 2015, pure alcohol consumption (per litre) in South Africa is at 11.5 litres per capita per year – up from 11.0 litres in 2014. This pushes South Africa up to the third biggest drinking nation in Africa, and the 19th biggest drinking nation in the world, tied with Poland. South Africa has been highlighted as the worst country in the world for drunk driving, where as many as 58% of deaths on SA roads can be attributed to alcohol consumption.3

1 https://sobernation.com/understanding-employee-assistance-programs-and-how-they-can-help-those-struggling-with-addiction-in-the-workplace
2 https://www.unodc.org/doc/wdr2016/WORLD_DRUG_REPORT_2016_web.pdf
3 https://businesstech.co.za/news/lifestyle/124939/south-africa-alcohol-consumption-vs-the-world

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