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Substance abuse in the workplace: the staggering cost in human and financial capital



Overcoming addiction is tough. Discover six resources Horizon offers employers to support workers with substance use disorder and their families.

Substance use disorder (SUD) can exact a heavy human cost on the person who suffers from it and on the family and friends around them who often feel powerless to help. But the personal toll tells only part of the story. Chances are, the person with an SUD has a job, and his or her employer relies heavily on them to be productive.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. (NCADD), about 70 percent of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed. The problem is a big one: SUD leads to lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, and theft. Left unaddressed, SUD can also affect employee morale and lead to an increase in health care, legal and workers' compensation costs. Collectively, the NCADD estimates that drug abuse costs employers $81 billion annually.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of these issues. While work-from-home arrangements have helped countless employers maintain business continuity while keeping their employees safe, the home workplace hasn’t been risk-free. With the remote-work era erasing the line between work and home, a survey from alcohol.org found that 1 in 3 Americans were likely to drink alcohol while working from home during the pandemic.

Employer support can help workers struggling with addiction. Here are six ways employees can find and stay on the path to recovery by using Horizon tools:

1. Access remote treatments with evidence-based telehealth options

Breaking the addiction cycle can require innovative approaches. Select Horizon members who have SUD are eligible for a financial reward-based intervention that’s proven to work in more than 100 scientific studies. Horizon has partnered with DynamiCare Health to match members with telehealth recovery coaches and have them test their breath and saliva using a mobile app. The program relies on the evidence-based technique of “contingency management,” which encourages positive habits through financial incentives.

2. Simplify the search for quality behavioral care

It’s not always easy to find and compare addiction treatment providers based on the quality of care they provide. But Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis, is empowering simpler, more effective searches. Its partnership with Horizon has brought a groundbreaking ATLAS® tool to help members navigate high-quality addiction treatment options.

3. Get access to gold-standard opioid use disorder treatment

Only an estimated quarter of New Jersey’s addiction treatment providers offer approved medication-assisted treatment (MAT), the gold-standard treatment for opioid use disorder that incorporates behavioral therapy and medications, including buprenorphine/naloxone and naltrexone.

Thanks to Horizon’s expanded provider network, members now have more and convenient options for MAT. Providers include WorkIt Health, Eleanor Health and Kaden, which provide MAT virtually. Through these options, Horizon members can obtain in-person or virtual whole-person care, including individualized behavioral health services, buprenorphine/naloxone treatment via mobile or web app, mail-in drug tests, interactive courses and individual advocates for ongoing support.

4. Care for the body and mind as one

Those struggling with mental health know that the body and mind are intertwined in ways that can make addressing individual issues difficult. That’s why a tailored, whole-person model of care can be essential to getting people the help they need.

Horizon has created new alliances with community-based partners to create personalized recovery and care plans, helping individuals overcome complex behavioral, substance use and medical health challenges. This Integrated System of Care (ISC) approach allows providers to coordinate care to drive better outcomes for patients by treating every aspect of health rather than addressing one singular issue at a time.

5. Harness the power of information

Mental health is complicated, and the stigmas surrounding it can make finding help and answers difficult. Horizon members can use a one-stop resource to help locate and access a wide spectrum of behavioral and SUD treatment and recovery services. The site includes online self-assessment tools to check symptoms and avenues to reach in-network mental health professionals.

Families coping with SUD may need help learning how to talk about and foster recovery. This how-to guide considers the way various factors might complicate the situation, offering advice on actions, insights on common red flags, and important tools families can use to help their loved ones while also caring for themselves.

6. Use the Employee Assistance Program

Horizon has developed a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help employers with 1,000 or more workers connect their employees to counseling and care services. This EAP takes a holistic approach that’s designed to help employees overcome personal challenges at home so they can improve their quality of life and excel in the workplace.

These tools and resources from Horizon can provide options to those in need of support. Encouraging people with SUD to seek treatment and begin recovery can help them reclaim their lives. Horizon is here to help.