Thursday, December 30, 2010

EAPs Can Help Alcoholic Employees on Disability and Others

If you work for a company of any appreciable size, there is probably a disability insurance policy in case employees get sick or injured to the extent they can’t work for an extended period of time. Some organizations are progressive with their disability insurance, while some still live in the dark ages. 

The most progressive insurance plans cover physical injuries and illness, emotional disabilities, and yes, acute chronic alcoholism. The state of South Carolina, for example, covers alcoholism or any condition caused by alcoholism or alcohol abuse for a maximum of 24 months. 

By the way, did you know that prior to the ADA, the federal government recognized acute alcoholism as a disease without restrictions on alcoholism, but after the ADA and its language covering alcoholism, many changes were made that were actually detrimental to the acceptance of alcoholism as a disease? 

Go to the American Society of Addiction Medication,, website and read the policy statement and response to the language of the ADA and how adamantly opposed this organization is to the EEOC interpretation of the law, which increased discrimination against alcoholism in its belief. 

The ADA did not help alcoholics, they claim. It made discrimination worse in many ways. You will stunned at the insight afforded by this statement.  

For example, did you know that the Federal government, Office of Personnel Management issued regulations that "required" use of the EAP for employees suspected of having alcohol problems prior to the institution of any disciplinary action. If the EAP was not used, the disciplinary action would be considered illegal and void. That changed after the ADA.

Sorry for the digression --- Many physically ill patients retire on disability with acute illnesses associated with acute chronic alcoholism. The smartest organizations with disability insurance that cover alcoholism and mental disorders seek to aggressively document that the patient is participating in required treatment to arrest the illness and manage it successfully. You EAP can play this role and possibly save the employer a fortune. You'll have to feel your way into the benefits policies and administration to see if there is a role for you to play in this regard, but it can boost utilization and make your program more valuable. 

The EAP can play a key role in helping these employees who get sick or are injured, and qualify for disability insurance. Only an EA professional is proactive enough to assist employees in dealing with the psychosocial aspects of illness or injury effectively. This could conceivably assist these employees in getting back to work or in having meaningful lives. If you make headway in this area, let me know! I will make a post about it and it could encourage other EAPs to do the same and be more valuable.