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Developing Emotional Intelligence In The Workplace

Addiction affects millions of people around the world every single day. According to National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 70% of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed. This can present multiple issues and expenses for business owners and companies due to absenteeism, injuries, loss of productivity, theft, and an increase in the cost of health care and workman’s comp.

The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery makes a great point, “Because an addiction impacts every facet of a person’s life, the problem must be addressed at many different levels, including the place of employment.” With that, they go on to state that our economy loses at least $100 billion dollars a year due to drug abuse.

Addiction in the Workplace

Addiction in the workplace is a growing consideration for employers as more and more people are affected directly or indirectly by alcoholism and drug dependence. Employees with an addiction aren’t the only aspect of addiction affecting the workplace. Having an immediate family member or loved one with an addiction can also affect an employee’s performance.

The workplace can be most effective in addressing alcoholism and drug abuse by developing programs that offer support for improving worker’s health, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). These types of programs offer short-term counseling, assistance with treatment resources, and programs, as well as support groups.

It is important to ensure that all employees are aware of their program’s benefits and coverage so that should they need this type of assistance, they feel more relief that it is available to them.

Additionally, employers can implement substance abuse policies among their workforce such as:

  • Drug-free workplace.
  • No tolerance policy.
  • Employee handbooks with specific rules pertaining to substance use.
  • Health benefits that offer a comprehensive coverage of substance abuse treatment and aftercare.
  • Wellness programs.
  • Education programs that demonstrate the effects of drug and alcohol use.

If an employee is showing signs of substance abuse in the workplace, employers can be most effective by addressing it directly with their employees. Employers should express their concern within the safety of a confidential meeting with the employee to confirm that substance abuse is the problem. During this conversation, it’s important to express empathy and always respect the employee’s right to medical and personal privacy.

However, beyond prevention measures, the workplace must also begin to understand how emotional intelligence for recovery is equally important as part of their policies. It’s essential for companies to begin understanding the importance of developing emotional intelligence in the workplace as it relates to addiction and recovery.

Perhaps, it makes the most sense for employers to first become more educated about addiction recovery to begin offering better support and encouragement to those employees who have stopped contributing to the problem and, instead, have turned their lives around. Employers can do this by becoming educated on the feelings and emotions of employees in recovery.

What are the most common feelings someone in recovery might experience?

Dealing with feelings in recovery can be one of the biggest challenges for an addict. Often, a person in recovery may become overwhelmed much more easily because the feelings they once self-medicated with drugs and alcohol are now something that they are learning to process without the aid of those coping mechanisms.

It’s important for employers to understand what those feelings are in order to provide the best level of support. A person in recovery may experience the following emotions:

  • Loneliness.
  • Fear.
  • Guilt.
  • Shame.
  • Anger.
  • Frustration.
  • Low Self-worth.
  • Disappointment.
  • Boredom.
  • Overjoy (otherwise known as the “Pink Cloud Syndrome”).

How can a workplace be considerate of recovery-related feelings?

It’s important for employers to be mindful of how emotions and addiction recovery are closely correlated. Emotions are often one of the biggest drivers of workplace performance. Therefore, being considerate of the feelings that come with recovery inside of the workplace may offer an employee support where they need it the most.

Self-awareness in recovery is crucial when returning to work after treatment. Often, the substance abuse problems that people have stemmed from an inability to process emotions in a healthy way or lack of their own emotional intelligence.

Recovery in the workplace is a two-way street—where the employee has to develop his or her own self-awareness and their employer needs to be cognizant of the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. By bringing more awareness to how emotions and feelings play a role into the root of the problem, everyone involved has a better chance of helping to sustain long-term recovery.

For more information about workplace emotional intelligence, please refer to our guide on How To Handle Addiction in the Workplace.

Call us today to learn more about our treatment programs as well as how we can help effectively support workplace addiction efforts.

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Alcohol And Drugs In The Workplace, NCADD,, April 2015

Addictions In The Workplace, Illinois Institute For Addiction Recovery,

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August 7th 2016 | By: Carly Benson | Posted In: Substance Abuse