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Employers Addressing Substance Use Disorders Save By

Promoting Use of an Employee Assistance Program

Do you have and maintain an effective Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help employees with personal and work problems?

EAPs are designed to help identify and resolve productivity problems affecting employees who are impaired by personal concerns. EAPs come in many different forms, from telephone-based to on-site programs. Face-to-face programs provide more comprehensive services for employees with substance use disorders, including confidential screening, treatment referrals and follow-up care. Assuring that workers with substance use disorders receive treatment can help employers save money. Intervening early can prevent the need for more intensive treatment and hospitalizations down the road.

Many companies provide EAPs to come to the aid of employees with alcohol, drug, family or emotional problems that negatively affect their job performance. The estimated 20,000 EAPs in the U.S. reach more than 48 million people. Workers who use EAPs report that after EAP treatment, they have fewer substance use and mental health problems, fewer health symptoms, better job attendance and greater job satisfaction.

Employee Assistance Program Achieves Positive Results3

For workers with substance problems, EAPs generally include:

  • worksite awareness programs
  • referrals for diagnosis, treatment and other assistance
  • training of supervisors and union representatives
  • confidential and timely assessment
  • links to community-based services
  • Web-based tools
  • follow-up and recovery support after initial treatment

The Federal Occupational Health agency, in a prospective cost-benefit estimate of Employee Assistance Programs, showed that for every $1 spent on the EAP, the expected savings for the first year would be $1.27, and those savings would rise to $7.21 by the fifth year. (Wrich, 1998).

Make an EAP Part of Your Benefits Package

Most EAP providers charge for their services on a per-person basis, and annual fees of $12 to $30 per employee are common. It also is possible to contract with an EAP provider for services used, usually at an hourly rate.

Find an EAP Provider

To locate a provider in your area, check local directories for EAPs and for substance use information and treatment centers. Good sources of information include chambers of commerce, trade associations and other employers, as well as local hospitals, health maintenance organizations and your insurance carrier. The Employee Assistance Professionals Association offers a Guide to Employee Assistance Programs and Services on its Web site:

How to Hire an EAP

  1. Develop specifications and request proposals from several EAP vendors.
  2. Evaluate their qualifications.
  3. Include performance standards in your EAP contract so you can measure the effectiveness of your investment.

Additional help on selecting an EAP can be found here.

For More Information

The Division of Workplace Programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers an EAP “tip sheet” at

The Employee Assistance Professionals Association offers an online guide to EAP services at:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Working Partners program provides information about EAP issues at:

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