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Everything You Need to Know About Employee Assistance Programs

Some employers may not realize that they can use their company's Employee Assistance Program to help an employee who may be struggling with issues related to drug abuse. EAP can guide managers on how best to deal with an employee's drug problem, including requiring or suggesting that the employee seek out EAP's help as well.

An EAP's main objective is to help the employee resolve any problems that may be occurring in the short term while also providing him or her with the appropriate guidance insofar as who they can turn to for help with their long-term issues. Through EAP, employees can receive counseling, as well as referrals and resources with regard to issues concerning goings-on in the workplace. They can also receive help for their financial, behavioral, and substance abuse-related issues as well.

EAP is usually open to everyone, regardless of whether or not the individual is covered by health insurance. Some insurers actually offer EAP as a complementary service, pairing it with other behavior-related benefits.

Most EAPs can be contacted via phone, through their website, or by making an in-person appointment. When contacted by phone, EAP provides the caller with a certain number of sessions conducted with a counselor or representative who can talk out the problem and offer suggestions on how to resolve it. EAP websites typically offer informational resources, such as articles, tests, and videos on a variety of topics.

Even though it's called the Employee Assistance Plan, there are actually several resources available to managers as well, including guidance on how to handle an employee that has substance abuse-related difficulties. Employers can also receive information on how best to establish and maintain a drug-free workplace.

Some companies will actually implement a mandatory EAP referral policy. This means that if an employee is suspected of having a substance abuse problem, then that employee will be immediately directed to use EAP's services. Some industries that practice mandatory EAP referrals include the transportation and healthcare industries, which can actually result in other people sustaining an injury as a result of a co-worker's drug problem.

Employers can look for warning signs that may indicate that an employee is struggling with a drug problem, such as physical or behavioral changes, missing several days of work or frequently calling in late, or by providing lackluster performance while on the job. If an employer is unsure of how to broach the subject of potential drug abuse with that employee, EAP can guide them on what to do to confront the employee and encourage him or her to seek help.

EAP can offer referrals to employees for substance abuse counselors and rehab facilities that can best assist them with their problem. An employee who seeks help can only increase his or her productivity by improving their job performance and by missing less time at work. Of course, if the employee must take some time off in order to receive treatment for substance abuse-related issues, then EAP can also help both the employee and his or her employer prepare for the employee's return to work.