Employee Assistance Programs Explained and its Role in Treating Substance Use Disorders

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By: SUPE Editorial Team

An employee assistance program is able to assist employees with various issues. It can offer short-term counseling and other interventions to help with substance use disorders.

An EAP is offered by an employer, and employees have access to it for personal or work-related problems and confidential aid. In addition, there are options to receive short-term counseling, evaluation, and referral to further treatment through an EAP.

How Does an Employee Assistance Program Work?

The purpose of an EAP is to help de-escalate employee problems. Employees struggling with addiction can receive free services through the EAP.

Employers do not know that an employee has contacted their employee assistance program; it is entirely confidential. Employees can contact an EAP counselor to begin the process.

The professionals working within an employee assistance program provide an evaluation or assessment and then offer guidance on how to resolve the problem. The employee is referred to further treatment in the case of a substance use disorder.

An EAP is a free service provided by the employer’s health insurance policy. Yet, when a person is sent to a drug rehab center, the individual would have to work with their health insurance provider to ensure services are covered by insurance. 

Pros and Cons of an EAP

Some of the pros include the following:

  • An objective third party assesses each issue and determines the best course of action.
  • Employees do not have to pay or worry about insurance co-pays or deductibles.
  • Everything is confidential, and employers do not find out.
  • Family members are eligible for services.

Some of the cons include the following:

  • Assessments are only provided within a few sessions.
  • EAPs do not cover treatment services such as detox or drug rehab.

The Different Types of Employee Assistance Programs

There are various services provided through an employee assistance program; thus, different types of programs are provided.

In-House or Internal Programs

This type of EAP provides professionals onsite within the workplace and is often found in larger companies with numerous employees in concentrated locations.

External Programs

An external EAP provides employees and their families with access to a toll-free number for services.

Blended Programs

Large corporations with dense employee concentrations in multiple locations have a blended EAP with onsite providers and network providers.

Management Sponsored Programs

These programs are sponsored exclusively by management as opposed to sponsored by unions or management and a union.

Member Assistance Program

An MAP is provided by a union and provides a wide range of support and help.

Peer-Based Programs

These are less common than an EAP and offer all services through peers and coworkers.

Are Services Completely Confidential?

Yes, when visiting an EAP professional, employees are guaranteed complete privacy and confidentiality. Employers who pay for an EAP do not know an employee has contacted the service for assistance.

*Eligibility for EAPs is based on employment status and if a company offers an employee assistance program.

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