Should you avoid treatment because of these fears? As an internal Employee Assistance Representative I see these fears in the faces of those so desperate for help. When employees come to me with substance abuse problems, they seem real hesitant to disclose the full nature of their problem. Aside from stressing the concept of complete confidentiality with a person, I try to alleviate the fear of job loss right from the start. I explain to them how we have safeguards in place to protect them from termination. I then point out how their health care covers the issues dealing with treatment for alcohol and/or substance abuse. Hospitalization for substance abuse is treated like any other illness that may befall our employees. It is only by the voluntary signing of a release of information form that a supervisor should know the nature of a person’s hospitalization. Most employees are returned to the same job they were performing before hospitalization. Exceptions can be made in the case of safety sensitive jobs such as Captain of an oil tanker, railroad engineer, school bus driver etc… in which case you would be placed in a comparable position until deemed appropriate.
On a personal note, when I disclosed that information in September of 1987, I too had those same fears. Not only did I retain my job but I was a much better employee as a result of treatment. Furthermore, I was able to return to school with an enthusiasm that led to job promotions and better career opportunities.
Alcoholism and other drug addictions are potentially fatal diseases if left untreated. Meanwhile, employees in desperate need of substance abuse services are afraid to seek help because they fear negative consequences from their employer. They may fear losing a license, failing to get promoted or even termination. However, in light of the proven case histories of the consequences in store for an active substance abuser, treatment seems to be the best choice. I urge anyone with alcohol or other substance abuse problems to seek the available help. Sacred Heart has a reputation in the recovery community of providing that help. It is my hope that anyone abusing substances step from the bridge of fear to the shore of faith. Treatment works!
--James Skelton, UAW-GM EAP, ADAPT, JTR REP, Powertrain Warren