What Is an Employee Assistance Program?

What Is an Employee Assistance Program?

An Employee Assistance Program is provided by your employer to help you with the problems of daily life like addiction to drugs

When you struggle with substance abuse like to methadone, you may feel as if the odds are stacked against you. You may even fear that your employer will find out and you may lose your job. The good news is that many employers, such as government and most large companies, offer employee assistance programs (EAPs). According to this source, the US Department of Labor states (in 2012) that 65 percent of mid- to large employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as part of their benefits package. In 1988, the figure was only 43 percent. More EAPs are available than ever before.

What specifically is an EAP? These are programs and resources from employers that offer benefits to employees. According to this non-profit organization, those who have an alcohol problem use twice as much sick leave as other employees and are five times more likely to file workers compensation claims. Addiction is a serious issue for both employers as well as employees. With an EAP, you can remain employed and also get treatment at the same time. In most cases, psychotherapy—or talk therapy—is used as a way of expressing your problems to a trained professional without bias. This process is very helpful and often helps individuals in recovery to life a healthier life. The following are a few facts about EAPs to consider:

EAPs Are Mutually Beneficial for Both the Employer and the Employee

An EAP helps employees not only with addiction but with overall health and productivity. This also helps employers keep valued employees and lower costs by not having to hire new employees. EAPs also help employees return back to work after illness or injury.

EAPs Lead to Less Downtime for Employers

EAPs have been shown to contribute to reduce the amount of employee absenteeism, have fewer accidents and also fewer worker compensation claims and reduce medical costs for mental health and substance abuse issues. In many cases, an employer’s management team is given an orientation for some of the services offered by an EAP.

EAPs Are Often Underutilized

There are several reasons for this such as simply a poor job of management in telling that help is available to employees. EAPs are not just for addiction or substance abuse to drugs like methadone. EAPs also help with work or career issues, treat marital difficulties, financial problems and legal problems. An EAP can help with major life changes such as births, deaths, or accidents as well. In many cases, EAPs will work with the employee over the phone if that is desired or even meet at the worksite. In this case, counseling would typically happen over a lunch break in a private room. It is possible that some EAPs will work around your schedule as well.

Find Out f an EAP Is Available to You

If you want to see if an EAP is available to you, the best first step is to talk to your company’s Human Resources department. You do not have to disclose what you want to talk about. The only thing you need to discuss is if there is an EAP, what the EAP’s phone number is and setting up an appointment.

If you decide to get treatment and this requires an extended leave of absence, know you still are protected and your employer cannot legally fire you. Under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, employers are required to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. Overall, the FMLA is intended to offset the urgent needs of families with the requirements of the workplace. In many cases you can use vacation time for FMLA time. Again, talk to your Human Resources department for details.

If you find out there is not an EAP at your organization, one thing you can do is call your insurance and see what treatment is covered under your policy. Obamacare has changed the way that addiction—a mental illness—is viewed by insurance. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, gave over 32.1 million Americans gain access to coverage that includes mental health and/or substance use disorder benefits that comply with the federal parity requirements.

Even if you are currently uninsured, you can contact your local state agency, most often the Department of Job and Family Services, to see if you qualify for some kind of medical assistance such as Medicaid. Please find out all information before making any assumptions about whether or not you qualify for treatment. This can be a bit overwhelming with all of the different options, so if you have any questions at all please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline. Our counselors will be glad to answer any questions you have about treatment and the recovery process. Recovery from addiction to drugs like methadone is a lifelong process, so you can take steps to move forward in the right direction today.