By investing in substance abuse treatment, employers can reduce their overall costs. Substance use disorders cost the nation an estimated $276 billion a year, with much of the cost resulting from lost work productivity and increased healthcare spending.1
Given that 76 percent of people with drug or alcohol problems are employed,2 employers have a major stake in ensuring that employees have access to substance abuse treatment.
DID YOU KNOW?
Replacing an employee costs from 25 percent to almost 200 percent of annual compensation— not including the loss of institutional knowledge, service continuity, and coworker productivity and morale that can accompany employee turnover.4
The average cost per visit for outpatient substance abuse treatment (by far the most frequent form of treatment) in 2002 was $26.72.5
Savings from investing in substance abuse treatment can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1.6 About 19.2 million U.S. workers (15%) reported using or being impaired by alcohol at work at least once in the past year.3
♦ About 63% of people with substance abuse problems receive outpatient treatment, which minimizes time away from work and costs much less than inpatient treatment.13
Brief intervention among heavy drinkers in one workplace study yielded a three to one return on investment (See chart).14
Providing comprehensive substance abuse health benefits costs just $.06 more per member than imposing a $10,000 limit on those benefits.15
EMPLOYER’S ACTION AGENDA
Offer employees health insurance that provides comprehensive
benefits for substance abuse treatment, including therapy, medications, and recovery support.
Ensure that company wellness or Employee Assistance Programs* include substance abuse screening, education, and support for recovery.
Drug-Free Workplace Solutions
1 H. Harwood, D. Fountain, and G. Livermore, “The Economic Costs of
Alcohol & Drug Abuse in the U.S. 1992,” Rockville, MD: National Institute on
Drug Abuse and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1998.
http://www.nida.nih.gov/economiccosts/index.html . (Accessed 5-9-08).
2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA),
Office of Applied Studies (OAS), National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2005 and
2006, Table 5.8A, Rockville, MD: 2007. http://oas.samhsa.gov/
nsduh/2k6nsduh/tabs/Sect5peTabs1to13.pdf . (Accessed 5-7-08).
3 M.R. Frone, “Prevalence and distribution of alcohol use and impairment in the
workplace: A U.S. national survey,” J Stud. Alcohol, 67, 1: 147-156, January 2006.
4 F. Leigh Branham, “Six Truths about Employee Turnover,” NY: American
Management Association. http://www.nichebenefits.com/Library/sixtruths.pdf
5 SAMHSA, OAS, The DASIS Report. Alcohol and Drug Services Study (ADSS) Cost
Study, 2004. http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k4/costs/costs.htm. (Accessed 5-23-08).
6 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A
Research-Based Guide, FAQ11, Bethesda, MD: NIDA, 1999. http://www.nida.
nih.gov/podat/PODAT6.html#FAQ11 . (Accessed 5-9-08).