For the past 75 years, Alcoholics Anonymous has been transforming lives through its 12-step recovery program. There are now more than 2 million members. AA was started in 1935 when two alcoholics- Dr. Bob, an Akron, Ohio doctor and Bill W., a New York stockbroker, created a confidential way for alcoholics to come together, share their stories and support each other. One of the bylaws included keeping confidentiality in order to make is safer for alcoholics to admit they had a problem and as a result, first names are only used. The famed “12 steps” to recovery is followed by members and has been a model for many alcohol treatment groups.
While chapters in different cities go by different names and specialize for certain populations such as women, men, sexual orientation, race, religion or profession, the message is the same: acceptance, anonymity, support, accountability and relying on a higher power.
Other 12-step groups have formed as offshoots from AA. These include NA (Narcotics Anonymous), DA (Debtors Anonymous) Alanon (for family members of alcoholics) as well as many more.
The belief in a higher power does not have to be a religious view, but rather the recognition of a kind of power higher than the self. The higher power referred to in AA could also be the complex dynamic of human interaction- the power of many over the power of one.
Founder, Bill W. believed that when addicts reach their “bottom”- job loss, financial ruin, legal difficulties. loss of a relationship, etc, he or she reaches a “softened” state of mind. It is this stage in their lives when addicts are willing to consider that they have become powerless over their use of addictive substances. At this point, their lives have become unmanageable and they have lost control.
Employers can have a profound impact on an employee’s recovery. If your company drug tests and they receive a “last chance agreement” requiring them to follow the recommendations of the Employee Assistance Program, this act may well be their “bottom”. As the employer, you are giving the employee the motivation to seek sobriety. Enabling or excusing addictive behavior allows the problem to increase. If you suspect an employee may have an alcohol or drug problem and your company does not do random or for cause drug testing, consult with the EAP. We can help you determine if there are performance issues and if so, you can refer the employee to the EAP for a performance issue and we can conduct an assessment to determine if there is also an addiction.
Employee safety should always be a primary concern so if an employee appears to be under the influence at work, have the employee removed from the job, tested or assessed and be sure they have a safe way to get home.
In over 35 years of providing EAP services, we have seen many employees lead sober and productive lives after attending AA meetings and/ or treatment programs. We know that despite the anger, resistance, excuses and denial, addicts live in a world of pain. Choosing to remain sober is the best choice an addict can make.
We will provide consultation, support and case management to employers and ongoing support to your employees throughout their journey towards recovery.
Every employer, regardless of their size or industry can be susceptible to workplace violence. Almost every week in the news, we hear about someone who committed a violent act at work. These are usually major incidents which cause serious injury or death. However, as EAP counselors we also hear about more frequent and less severe situations which if left unresolved, can evolve into much more serious situations. It is never a good idea to ignore or avoid uncomfortable situations with employees because employers are afraid to confront a potentially violent employee or a fear of making the problem worse. Many employees who have committed violent acts again their employers have admitted that they did try to complain or express their feelings but felt they were not being heard so they took more serious action.
Two employees argue in the break room and idle threats are made; someone shoves another on the line; an employee finds an anonymous hostile note on her desk; an abusive partner shows up at the workplace looking for his spouse. These situations are some examples of potential workplace violence which should be addressed by employers to avoid serious injuries or death at work.
One of the most important parts of violence prevention is training. When employees and supervisors are aware of potential warning signs, they can intervene early and violence can be prevented. Too often, we hear after an incident that there were warning signs but no one took them seriously. Our message to employers is to take every threat seriously and to investigate all situations thoroughly. Companies should have a zero tolerance policy for weapons at work, threats or physical altercations.
Training should include learning to recognize early warning signs, identifying behavioral patterns of potentially violent employees, understanding the types of workplace violence to minimize the risks, and proactive steps to take to prevent violence as well as a crisis plan for dealing with the situation, should it occur.
The EAP is an important part of a company violence prevention plan. We can assist with training employees about the warning signs of potentially violent employees and together with your human resources or security department, we can help educate employees about how to report or intervene in certain situations. We can assist with mandatory referrals to the EAP and facilitate referrals for fitness for duty evaluations. If a violent incident should occur we can provide a critical incident debriefing for those who were involved.
While no one ever wants to think about violence at work, it is very important to have a prevention and response plan in place.