What Is Addiction Costing Your Company?

Addiction is a destructive disease that pulls a person and the people around them down. This obviously effects friends and family, but it also endangers employers and co-workers.

Addiction is more prevalent than you think.

According to a survey conducted by Hazelden Foundation, more than 60 percent of adults know someone who has gone to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that nearly 75 percent of adult illicit drug users are employed.

Addicts are not the stereotypical jobless living under a bridge; if you’re an employer, chances are one could be your employeean employee that’s costing you money and threatening the work environment.

Do you know what addiction is costing you?

A company loses money when an employee is addicted to drugs or alcohol through lost productivity, increased accidents and injuries, absenteeism, and healthcare costs.

The Cost of Addiction in the Workplace

Lost Productivity

  • Alcohol abuse costs American businesses $134 billion in productivity losses annually.
  • A survey of callers to the national cocaine helpline revealed that 75 percent reported using drugs on the job; 64 percent admitted that drugs adversely affected their job performance.


  • Workers struggling with addiction call in sick or skip work an average of 11 days per year—30% more than those who don’t have a problem.
  • Employees who are heavy drinkers use twice as much sick time as other employees

Increased Accidents and Injuries

  • According to the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE), substance abusers are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on-the-job accidents, and they are five times more likely to injure themselves or another worker in the process.
  • Up to 40% of industrial fatalities and 47% of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol use.
  • Heavy drinkers had an approximate 30% increase in risk for filing a worker’s compensation claim.

Health Care Costs

  • Health care costs for employees are about twice as high as for those without an alcohol abuse problem.
  • Employees who are heavy drinkers spend four times as many days in the hospital than the national average

Other Costs

  • Possible lawsuits could occur due to accidents that injured another co-worker or worse a client (e.g. hospital patients) because an employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, costing you money and trust.
  • An addicted employee can cause a stressful and dangerous work environment for their co-workers. Addicted employees are more likely to injure themselves or others, and their lack in performance adds stress to co-workers who work harder or longer to make up for it.

What can you do about it?

If you have an employee that’s struggling with addiction, you’re losing money and putting others in the workplace at risk. So does that mean you immediately fire them?

While firing them might seem like an easy out, it’s only right to give them the opportunity to heal from the deadly disease they’re struggling with. By making sure your employees have access to drug and alcohol treatment, you can save a lot of money avoiding the costs of continued addiction in the workplace and avoiding the considerable expense of training new employees .

A “Win-Win” Solution

Here’s one example of a company saving money through establishing a drug-free workplace program:

“One small plumbing company in Washington, D.C., the Warner Corporation, saved $385,000 in one year by establishing a drug-free workplace program that included EAP services. The company attributed the savings to a decrease in the number of accidents, which resulted in lower workers’ compensation costs and lower vehicle insurance premiums.” -U.S. Department of Labor

Saving You Money while Saving Their Lives

Saving money is vital for a company, especially in a tough economy, but more importantly, offering resources or assistance to employees struggling with addiction could save their lives. If you truly care about your employees’ well-being, you will make it easier for them to get help when they need it.

Encourage your employees to seek help if they have a problem with drugs and alcohol, and reassure them that they won’t lose their job by going to treatment. 

It’s a win-win: you save money and your employee is given the resources to save their job and ultimately their life.