Would you treat addiction the same as diabetes?

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Addiction may be less taboo than it once was but there’s no doubt a certain level of stigma still remains – so how can HR best handle such a sensitive topic? According to one industry expert, employers should offer support in the same way they would with any other chronic disease.

“Having a culture that promotes wellbeing, is transparent and non-judgemental, forms the basis for a safe, healthy and productive workplace,” says Tania Archer. “Providing workshops to educate staff is another positive way to help build healthy employees and workplaces,” she adds.

Archer is the director of business development at Renascent – a Toronto-based drug and addiction rehabilitation organization. She says some employers still have a misconception that addiction only affects certain stereotypes.

“Some employers come with their own issues or have experienced addiction first-hand in their personal lives, we still have a ways to go to educate and raise awareness about addiction as a chronic disorder and that relapse can occur,” she told HRM. “Being proactive and treating employees up front creates healthy employees and workplaces. It’s the best investment an employer can make.”

However, Archer – who says she’s worked with professionals from all walks of life – says there are plenty of Canadian employers who are handling workplace addiction well.

“We also work with leaders that are extremely supportive of their employees and promote a healthy, non-judgemental culture that encourages employees to seek help and they are rewarded by employee loyalty, safe workplaces and positive financial returns,” she stressed.

“What sets them apart?” she asks – “education, health promotion, early identification, commitment to accessing treatment services and enforcement.”

Michael Lochran, the manager of Renascent’s Punanai Centre, will be offering expert advice to employers in the area of workplace addiction in the upcoming HR Leaders Summit.

In the session, Lochran will discuss corporate strategies to create a self-enforcing culture that promotes wellness. To find out more about the HR Leaders Summit, or to order advance tickets, click here.

More like this:

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Mental illness impacting half of Toronto workers 

How to handle employee addiction 
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