The main thing an employer can do to assist an employee is to help them find professional therapy.

When an employee has an addiction problem, the employer also has a problem. The question becomes: What should you do about it?

There is no magic cure to get over their addiction--it will take time, patience and perseverance. Yet in the meantime, a business owner needs employees who are capable of getting to work on time and doing their jobs.

So, do you try to help them or fire them?

"If their work habits, private lives or addictions are getting in the way of performance, we either come up with a solution, or they’re adjusted out," says John Collopy, author of the The Reward of Knowing (www.johncollopy.com), which details his own struggle to overcome an alcohol addiction and become one of the most successful real estate brokers in Minnesota.

"I prefer to get employees help by getting them in treatment," he says. "But not everybody is ready for that. They have to accept help or they are gone."

The Narcotics Anonymous Basic Textbook agrees. It says: "Addicts can be analyzed, counseled, reasoned with, prayed over, threatened, beaten or locked up, but they won’t stop until they want to stop."

The statistics paint a clear picture that America has a workplace addiction problem. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:

--Workers with alcohol problems are 2.7 times more likely than workers without drinking problems to have injury-related absences.

--70 percent of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed.

--One-fifth of workers and managers across a wide range of industries and company sizes report that a co-worker’s on or off-the-job drinking jeopardized their own productivity and safety.

--Workers who had three or more jobs in the previous five years are twice as likely to be current illegal drug users or to have used them in the last year as those who have had two or fewer jobs.

The main thing an employer can do to assist an employee is to help them find professional therapy, Collopy says.

"Therapy is a slow, introspective process and a good therapist won’t be telling you what to do, but will guide you toward discovering what it is you really want," Collopy says. "The process of therapeutic introspection requires time and consistency."

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says that employers with successful Employee Assistance Programs and Drug-Free Workplace programs report improvements in morale and productivity, and decreases in absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover and theft.

"Employers should educate themselves and employees on identifying the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug use disorders and set up clear drug-free workplace policies," Collopy says. "Increasing awareness and clarifying expectations can be a good first step."

Contributed by News & Experts