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“For too long we’ve viewed drug addiction through the lens of criminal justice,” Obama said at a conference in Atlanta. “The most important thing to do is reduce demand. And the only way to do that is to provide treatment – to see it as a public health problem and not a criminal problem.” This changing climate around chemical dependency being a health concern instead of a criminal issue has improved how employees with chemical dependency are treated. Companies offer treatment help and hold the employee’s job for when he can return clean and sober. As the stigma of criminal or behavioral immorality is removed, more employees can return to work after treatment.

Guidelines for Return after Chemical Dependency Treatment

Returning to work after treatment for chemical dependency can be a stressful time. Stress that can lead back to addiction if not handled well. That is why employers should give clear guidelines for returning to work. While the following guidelines are for healthcare professionals recovering from substance abuse, they can be useful for other professions too.

  • Continued treatment requirements should be included in a monitoring plan. The plan needs to outline how progress is to be reported and by whom.
  • A recovery plan should be included. The recovery plan outlines what treatment will continue after the employee is released from detox and any required recovery program.
  • Random drug screening is required. The monitoring plan will state if the company or employee handles the costs of screening.
  • Use of a peer support group may be required.
  • Reporting of any prescription or over-the-counter drug use may be required. A doctor’s prescription and contact information is needed as proof of medical need.
  • The monitoring plan will allow for revision of treatment as necessary.

While a good starting point, these guidelines need to be revised for each employee’s situation. More support may be needed so the employee can learn to handle stress in a productive manner.

Return-To-Work Agreement

A monitoring and recovery plan is a good foundation to rebuild trust in the workplace. But to work both the company and employee should be committed to the recovery. A contract may be required before work may resume. A Return-To-Work Agreement (RTWA) is a contract stating that an employee may return to work if he agrees to follow the monitoring program set up by the company. It will include a start date and may include a date when monitoring will stop. The contract will also state that if the employee resumes chemical dependency, he may lose his job.

Chemical Dependency Relapse Prevention

Employers understand that returning to work after chemical dependency treatment will present new challenges. Many employers will alter the employees schedule to allow for continued treatment after the employee returns to work. Hours may be restricted and increased as confidence is built.

It is important to ease back into a work schedule and to have a mentor available for the recovering employee. Knowing a support network in the office is available will help the employee feel valued and wanted despite any fear of rejection, guilt, or shame he may be experiencing.

Aion Recovery for Chemical Dependency Treatment

Not every company has an open door policy to discuss addiction. If you are struggling with substance abuse and want help, but don’t want to risk your job, contact Aion Recovery in Southern Florida. We can help you find if your company offers employee assistance programs or insurance coverage for chemical dependency treatment. If not, we can help you plan confidential treatment during a vacation from work. Call Aion Recovery at 888-811-2879.

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