What Employee Assistance Programs and How Do They Affect Rehab?

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are a great resource for those who have addictions and are currently in the workforce. However, many people don’t know how to take advantage of these offers, even if these programs are available in their respective companies. Understanding EAPs can help workers with substance use disorder problems get the treatment they need.

In 2019, there were about 130.6 million Americans who are employed on a full-time basis. A percentage of this population goes through some health problems as well, be it those involving physical ailments or psychological issues. These health-related problems can be caused by the nature of one’s work.

High-stress jobs, those involving heavy work, or high-risk physical jobs can be a source of mental and physical illnesses. According to an article in Fast Company, the jobs with the highest percentage of those with addictions are from the food industry and construction. It goes to show that some occupations can be triggers for substance use disorder.

Thus, a government-imposed program was set in place to help employees succeed in the workplace despite these health and personal problems.

What Are Employment Assistance Programs?

In a nutshell, Employment Assistance Programs (EAPs) are various types of services offered to workers to help them deal with various health and personal crises. Various EAP programs available in most companies may include the following:

Types of Employee Assistance Programs

  • Assessments: People dealing with grief, suspected mental health disorders or substance use disorder problems can go through a free, confidential evaluation to help them get specific treatments. Assessments can also help employees qualify for services, as many referrals would require a formal diagnosis.
  • Short-term counseling: In some companies, there are also available counselors who can help employees deal with issues that they have at work, personal matters, or even internal struggles.
  • Referrals: After having an assessment, EAP personnel may give a referral to more comprehensive services, such as rehabilitation for substance use disorder or group counseling for issues between co-workers.
  • Follow-up services: After going through comprehensive treatment, workers can also benefit from follow-up services done by counselors and other healthcare providers. For example, EAP substance use disorder programs can include follow-up assessments to ensure sobriety after addiction treatment.

These general examples of Employee Assistance Programs are applicable for workers seeking help for substance use disorder problems as well.

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Employee Assistance and Rehab

Perhaps a large aspect of employee assistance aside from personal problems and work-related conflict is dedicated to substance use disorder. This is mainly because addiction in the workplace has many disadvantages both for the employee and the employer. It poses health and safety risks, as well as dangers of running into law enforcement since the use of drugs and alcohol in work settings, are mostly prohibited.

According to the National Safety Council, an estimated $ 74 billion are lost due to substance use disorder in the workplace. Not to mention, workers who have a drug or alcohol addiction have 16% higher turnover rate than the national average. Thus, EAPs should be set in place in order to target the problems of addiction in the workplace. Below are some of the issues one must be aware of when applying for Employee Assistance under substance use disorder rehabilitation.

EAP Assessment

In general, each company has their own healthcare insurance provider. The insurance provider creates an EAP assessment form that the employee or evaluator should fill out to indicate the potential problems.

These are the main parts of an EAP assessment:

  • Clinical Assessment: This includes questions regarding the employee’s health risks such as acute stress disorder, eating disorders, phobias, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, or oppositional behaviors.
  • Substance Use Disorder Assessment: This portion includes a report on the worker’s illicit drug or alcohol intake and how it affects them in the workplace.
  • Referrals and Recommendations: After chief concerns are identified, the evaluator will fill out the referrals to other programs and recommendations for the employee’s superiors.

An example of an EAP assessment can be viewed here.

ADA and FMLA Protections

Another important question that most employees ask regarding EAP recommendations is how they will be able to receive treatment if they have to leave work. There are also government ordinances that allow employees to take a paid or unpaid leave to receive healthcare services without the risk of losing their jobs.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows people with physical and mental health impairments to take work leaves for receiving treatment. Under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V), substance use disorders fall under the category of mental health problems. Thus, workers who received an EAP assessment indicating that they have an addiction problem can claim the ADA leave as well.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is created to allow employees to take a work leave during significant health and family-related concerns. There are several eligibility criteria under this act, such as having worked for at least 1,250 within the last 12 months. Some of the conditions allowed under the FMLA include:

  • Recent pregnancy or adoption
  • Serious medical condition (mental or physical)
  • Caring for a family member with a serious medical condition
  • Any illnesses requiring extended treatment
  • Substance use disorder rehabilitation

Under these conditions, employees can either use the ADA or FMLA protection.

Work Leaves

There is no set amount of leave provided under the ADA and FMLA as varied conditions have different lengths of treatment. However, the recommendations under the EAP assessment will determine the allowable work leaves, such as in the case of substance use disorder problems.

In many cases, employees who suffer from addiction and are eligible to have inpatient drug or alcohol rehab go through 30-90 day programs. In st cases, these work leaves are unpaid, but employers may also have the gracious option of providing paid leaves as well.

High-quality addiction rehab centers can adjust the length of treatment programs depending on the recommendations seen in the EAP assessment. In the event that you won’t be granted work leaves, you can also choose to have an outpatient treatment program to target a substance use disorder problem without being admitted to a facility.

Return-to-Work Agreements

Ideally, return-to-work agreements should be discussed with your superiors even before going through addiction treatment. If this is not explained to you, you may take the initiative to have an agreement set on paper. This can help avoid misunderstandings and can potentially protect you from policies not mentioned in your employee handbook.

Some pointers to remember when setting return-to-work agreements are:

  • Clarifying with your supervisor the exact date of leaving and resuming to work before treatment
  • Having a signed, written agreement
  • Informing your supervisor a couple of days or a day before you intend to go back to work
  • Provide the necessary documentation or other proof that you went to treatment during your leaves once your resume work
  • If unforeseen circumstances may stop you from resuming work on the agreed-upon date, inform your supervisors as soon as possible and work on another agreement.

What Constitutes Rehabilitation?

Under the Employee Assistance Program recommendations, evaluators may specify the types of healthcare services you can receive. If these include substance use disorder rehabilitation, these are the categories of what is considered formal treatment:

  • Inpatient treatment: This is a type of addiction rehab where patients will be within the healthcare facility to receive detox, treatment proper and aftercare recommendations. Inpatient treatment usually lasts for 30-90 days, requiring the patients to stay within the rehab center at that length of time to ensure better chances of recovery.
  • Outpatient treatment: Some patients do not need inpatient treatment due to milder severities of addictions. They would be asked to go through treatment programs without being admitted in the rehab facility, while also receiving aftercare services.
  • Counseling and support groups: Several services independent of rehab centers are counseling and support groups. Although these are available in rehab centers as well, some EAP recommendations would refer to some peer-to-peer support groups or in-company counseling, which is also considered a part of addiction rehab.

Benefits As An Employee: Get the EAP Advantage

As an employee, do not let your work situation hinder you from seeking treatment. Employee Assistance Programs should be utilized to your advantage in order for you to succeed not just in the workplace but also in addiction recovery.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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