Including access to treatment is an important part of having a comprehensive approach to preventing and managing alcohol-related harm in the workplace.
Counselling and other treatment services enable people with alcohol-related problems to be rehabilitated. Employees should be able to access services voluntarily, but undergoing treatment may also be a condition for employees who breach the policy (although they have the right to reject the offer).
Whether treatment is voluntary or compulsory, employees should be:
- supported to find and get to counselling and treatment services
- provided with appropriate paid or unpaid leave to access treatment
- assured of confidentiality (typically no information other than their attendance may be passed on without the employee’s written permission).
Treatment and rehabilitation
Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are available to help employees deal with personal problems that might impact their job performance, health and wellbeing.
EAPs enable the treatment and rehabilitation of employees with alcohol-related problems and, in some cases, can help handle workplace alcohol issues. Typically an EAP will provide assessment and short-term counselling.
Employees with more serious alcohol problems will be referred to a specialist treatment agency. Some EAP services offer more comprehensive services, such as employee education and supervisor training.
Some also offer advice on policy development and help with other strategies, such as health promotion and drug testing.
Brief interventions identify potential problems with alcohol use and intervene – in a low-key way – to motivate at-risk employees to change their drinking patterns.
Brief interventions aim to encourage employees to modify their alcohol use by:
- providing information about low-risk drinking and the ways alcohol can affect an individual’s health and work performance
- conducting brief assessments of an employee’s drinking and providing feedback about how this could be contributing to harm
- providing alcohol-related self-help booklets.
Brief interventions are especially suitable for people with non-dependent (but risky) drinking patterns, or those with low levels of dependence and harm. They can usually be done by external consultants or suitably trained people in the workplace (such as occupational nurses).
Co-workers are well positioned to recognise and respond to a workmate with a drinking problem. Peer intervention programmes train employees to recognise issues among their colleagues and intervene in the right way (such as through brief interventions).
Psychosocial skills training
Suitable people in the workforce (such as occupational nurses) can be trained to use psychosocial interventions.
They use strategies such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behaviour therapy, social skills training, goal setting and teaching coping strategies.
There’s some evidence workplace psychosocial skills training can reduce alcohol consumption, personal problems associated with drinking, and the amount of alcohol-related absenteeism.
Providing treatment services means building relationships with EAPs and/or other relevant treatment providers. It’s important to identify local and culturally-appropriate services that might be applicable for your workplace.
Some EAP providers in New Zealand are:
Some groups of psychologists also provide EAP counselling.
Publicly funded treatment
The Alcohol and Drug Helpline offers a free and confidential 24-hour service for anyone seeking help for themselves or others.
The helpline's service directory is a regionalised database of publicly funded addiction treatment and advice services. Privately funded organisations aren’t included.