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Untreated Alcohol Problems Increase Business Costs

Identifying and treating alcohol problems is good for business. Experts predict that the cost of providing employee health insurance coverage will double by 2007 — prompting many employers to consider strategies to help control costs. Increasing access to alcoholism treatment can help achieve this goal while also improving overall productivity.

How? Alcoholism is a chronic disease with many similarities to asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. Most employers don't recognize that it typically progresses in stages. They aren't aware that brief, inexpensive interventions can help many people cut back on their drinking before they become dependent on alcohol. Unfortunately, by the time many employees seek help for alcoholism, they require more extensive and expensive formal treatment. As a result, problem drinking, which can range from a drunk driving accident to acute liver disease, can increase an employer's health care costs and interfere with worker productivity over a period of many years.