Addiction recovery in the workplace
Workplaces often reflect what goes on in society. Since substance addiction and associated mental-health issues are significant social problems, they are also workplace issues.
Increasingly employers are getting better at identifying and supporting employees experiencing difficulties. But there are still many people who find it difficult to cope with their addiction in the workplace, for many reasons.
At Kennedy Street, our Helpline is dominated by calls for help from addicts in employment. They are often either too afraid to approach their employer for fear of losing their job or have found there is no provision for their predicament in their workplace.
Despite our relative success in helping these people into recovery (while still maintaining their employment), it has led us to understand the short-comings of the average UK workplace and how we can directly help organisations to improve the situation.
From spring 2022 Kennedy Street Workplace Training will offer an opportunity to embed a recovery model of care into the workplace culture.
The training equips staff and managers with the knowledge, peer support skills and an understanding of recovery resources that will enable them to signpost and support any of their co-workers, friends and families into recovery. These positive changes help establish better internal organisational cultures which, in turn, create enabling, resilient workplaces.
“Kennedy Street has helped me on my own personal journey of recovery from mental health breakdown and given me hope for the future.”
JS – Employed. Recovering addict.
Do people in your organisation need help?
Our Workplace Training gives you the tools to make lasting, positive workplace culture changes for your organisation.
“Too many workers struggle silently, and employers often don’t realize there is an alternative to firing an employee who may be in need of help. The stigmas around addiction and mental health compound the problem by deterring individuals who are struggling from reaching out for help. Stigmas also reinforce workplace cultures where these issues are taboo to discuss.” (Kelsey Moreira, sober founder and CEO on Forbes)
Employers need to develop a path to recovery, but this starts with an intent to break down stigma. By enabling open discussions about recovery and sobriety, a culture of inclusion is created, where differences are normalized.
When this is backed up by education for employees and managers on substance abuse, including how to recognize signs someone is struggling with addiction, the discussion then continues to break down the shame often attached to addiction.
Not only does this foster a deeper bond between a workforce, it makes financial sense to organisations too, given the staggering costs of absenteeism, sick pay and even re-recruitment for roles.
In April 2020, 38% of UK adults were risky drinkers compared with 25% in April 2019. (UCL’s Alcohol Toolkit study)
In 2020, there were 8,974 deaths from alcohol-specific causes registered in the UK, an 18.6% increase compared with 2019 and the highest year-on-year increase since the data time series began in 2001. (ONS)
Alcohol misuse annually costs the UK 21 billion Euros; lost workdays cost 7.3 billion Euros, and lost productivity costs 17 million Euros. (UKAT)
25% of the population of England drinks alcohol at levels that increase their long term risk of becoming ill. Of these, 4% drink at levels that significantly raise those risks. (PHE)
Drug abuse costs businesses 100 billion Euros yearly (up to 10% of annual payroll) and costs the UK 15 billion Euros. (UKAT)
An estimated 1.5 million people in the UK are addicted to prescription and over-the-counter medicines, which can affect performance, concentration or alertness. (TUC)
Substance abuse is linked to 60% of all poor performances and 40% of industrial accidents at work. (UKAT)
In 2020 YouGov estimated that nearly 1.4 million people in the UK were problem gamblers and that as many as 7% of adults, or 3.6 million people, report having been negatively affected by someone else’s gambling problem. (The Guardian)
Working from home
Being at home more can increase substance abuse problems and make addictions worse. Addicts all know about the bottles just off camera, the sipped coffee that seems to never get cold. It is much easier to hide addiction when working remotely and it is much harder to spot the signs in colleagues.
Working from home does increase peoples’ feelings of isolation and lonliness. If we don’t take breaks where we can see other people and socialize it can negatively affect our mental health which in turn makes addiction problems worse.
If you feel that your alcohol or drug use is out of control and getting worse because you are working from home, you need to reach out to somebody for help. You can call the Kennedy Street helpline any time of night or day. Or you might prefer to contact one of the organisations listed directly.
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The quickest way to break the stigma of addiction is for us to talk about our experiences of how we found our path to recovery. These very honest and open recovery stories are from people who have come into contact with Kennedy Street, we hope you find what they say helpful.
March is Women’s History Month, and we have celebrated International Women’s Day once again!
This is a celebration to highlight the incredible work of women throughout history who fought for equality and an opportunity to continue this fight to #BreakTheBias that we still see in our society today.
At Kennedy Street, we want to do the same for women in recovery.
I had my first drink at about the age of 8, a Babycham taken from the fridge without my parents knowing, until the following day by finding the empty bottle in the bin. I remember the feeling of that alcohol to this day.
My childhood was an unstable mix of living with family and in foster care. I started to experience homelessness and social exclusion from my teen years and first went in to rehab in my mid-20s.
I have experienced long periods of sobriety, during which I would manage to build my life up. I got married and had kids, found full time employment and new career paths, and even bought a house. However, none of these things stopped me from starting to drink and use drugs again, and my life would come crashing down around me (again).