Substance Abuse and the Workplace

OptumTM provides comprehensive assessment, training and proactive strategies for dealing with workplace attitudes that support substance abuse.

Substance abuse by employees and managers is often a hidden impact to workplace productivity and doesn’t always occur at the place of work. If these issues are left undetected or ignored, however, they can result in serious problems for the individual and the organization. Substance abuse undermines productivity and morale and increases the likelihood of workplace injuries and health insurance claims.

Training and coaching

Optum can provide training sessions for employees or supervisors addressing the issue of substance abuse and coach both individuals and groups on how to be supportive in the work environment. Formal referrals for substance abuse may be initiated in situations where the employee and manager agree to address the problem together. Contact Optum at 1-800-663-9099 if you would like to organize a training session or initiate a formal referral.

A legal perspective

The occupational health and safety legislation imposes an obligation on employers to ensure the health and safety of all workers. For example, the employer could be held responsible for the negligent acts of its employees where substance abuse was involved. On the other hand, alcohol and drug dependency have been accepted as disabilities under human rights legislations. The employer, therefore, has to find a balance between health and safety and the respect for individual rights.

Optum has two primary tools to support the employee and the organization with substance abuse problems:

SBIRT (Screening and Brief Intervention, Referral & Treatment)

Our substance abuse service provides a depth and breadth in treatment options. In 2012, Optum introduced a more robust substance-use screening and treatment protocol, SBIRT. All adult clients are pre-screened for substance use; a positive screen triggers the administration of the AUDIT and/or DAST-10 screening tools for alcohol and drug abuse, respectively. These screening outcomes guide further exploration and motivational interviewing, goal-setting and treatment planning.

Goal-setting and treatment plans are developed with the client to support engagement and treatment success. Regardless of the referral option(s), Optum maintains case management functions throughout the course of active treatment and subsequent aftercare activity. Case management includes assisting in all referrals, collaborating with collateral agents in treatment planning, monitoring compliance and abstinence, facilitating the return-to-work/transitional plan and participating in after-care activities and follow-up support. This case management function may be done in collaboration with Organizational Solutions Inc., our disability management partner.

Relapse Prevention Counselling Program

Our Relapse Prevention Counselling aims to support an organization’s policies and procedures for a safe and risk-free environment. For example, Optum assesses an individual’s understanding of the risk factors and implications of continued substance abuse at their workplace. The core goal is to establish risk, social and usage patterns; as well as an assessment of the individual’s motivation for change and factors that might impede change. Our counsellors are highly trained and experienced in working with a wide range of issues including addictions, trauma, grief and loss, childhood abuse, etc. With written consent from the client, Optum receives a copy of the client’s treatment assessment and recommendations. This ensures continuity of the treatment plan with the client.

Our relapse prevention counsellor works with clients to:

  • ŸŸIdentify high-risk situations and personal triggers that may lead client to relapse.
  • ŸDevelop positive coping strategies.
  • Develop lifestyle balance with healthy habits.
  • Resolve personal issues that impact decision to use substance.

The length of after-care service is determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with clients and collateral agents from whom clients also received treatment.

Disability Management

Our Disability Management program empowers employees to utilize proactive return-to-work treatments, and work in partnership with the employer to resolve the absence. Optum and Organizational Solutions Inc. have combined resources and expertise to offer unique, non-insured, intervention services to resolve occupational and nonoccupational disabilities promptly. Our integrated approach focuses on maximizing the skills and capabilities of the employee, not the disability, to facilitate a successful return to work.