How to Use Your EAP Benefits in Addiction Recovery

Updated on July 20th, 2020
client using EAP benefits for rehabAn Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be extremely helpful for people who are employed and actively addicted or are recovering from addiction. If you’re currently employed and recovering from a substance use disorder, your employer may provide an EAP that you can use to access recovery support resources and treatment.

Substance Abuse in the Workplace

man abuses at work

More than 70 percent of people struggling with drug or alcohol use disorders are employed.1 As a result, employers can no longer ignore the consequences of substance abuse in the workplace.

Although it is common in America, substance abuse in the workplace comes with many consequences and repercussions that affect the overall productivity and profitability of a company, as well as employee morale and culture. Some of the most common consequences of substance abuse in the workplace include:

  • Decreased productivity
  • High turnover rates
  • Workplace theft
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Decreased quality of work
  • More workplace injuries and fatalities
  • Decreased employee morale, engagement, and trust

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

Employee Assistance Programs are programs that are designed to help employees deal with issues that affect their job performance.2 This may include substance abuse problems, stress, grief, marriage problems, financial problems, and emotional or physical abuse, among other things.

EAPs are employer-sponsored, confidential, and voluntary. They are also often free for employees and are included in a health benefits program. Employers are usually highly motivated to offer an EAP because it helps prevent the negative side effects of substance abuse in the workplace and reduces costs associated with that.

What Are the Most Common Types of Employee Assistance Programs?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are several different types of EAPs.3 They include:

  • Internal EAPs: The EAP professionals work on-site, within the workplace.
  • External EAPs: The EAP professionals work outside of the workplace. Employees and their family members access the services with a toll-free phone number.
  • Blended EAPs: Employees have access to both in-house EAP representatives and external representatives.
  • Management-Sponsored Programs: This type of EAP is exclusively sponsored by management instead of a union or both management and a union.
  • Member Assistance Programs: This type of program is provided by a union and the structure and type of services can vary greatly.
  • Peer-Based Programs: This type of program provides services through peers and coworkers, although it is less common than conventional EAPs.

Do All Companies Have EAP?

do companies have eap?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 77 percent of employers offer an EAP to their employees.4 This statistic not only demonstrates the fact that employers are beginning to have an increased understanding of personal issues that affect job performance, but also that providing access to treatment services is an effective way to reduce the related negative side effects.

What Are the Advantages of Employee Assistance Programs?

If you’re struggling with chronic relapse or substance abuse problems, an Employee Assistance Program has several advantages:

  • It provides you with the opportunity to work with treatment representatives and your employer to develop a long-term addiction treatment plan that encompasses your job schedule and responsibilities.
  • If you need to take a leave of absence to complete an addiction treatment program, doing so through your employer’s EAP can help you keep your job and also make the transition back to work a smooth one.
  • Direct counseling through your EAP is often free for you or a member of your family.
  • EAPs help companies maintain a healthy, well-functioning workplace for all.

Although admitting to your employer that you’re struggling with addiction or are in recovery may seem unwise, doing so may actually help you keep your job and receive the proper treatment you need.

What Are EAP Benefits?

The type of EAP benefits offered will vary depending on the employer, but most often, they include services similar to those listed below:

  • Addiction treatment referrals
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Employee education and training
  • Individual counseling
  • Legal assistance and referrals
  • Elder care service referrals
  • Adoption assistance

If you are an employee of a company that provides an EAP, you may have access to these benefits. Your spouse, children, and/or unmarried partner living in the same household as you may also have access to these benefits as they are needed.

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    What Does EAP Cost?

    EAPs are generally provided at no cost to the employee so you do not have to worry about paying for immediate, confidential services. However, if you are referred to addiction treatment services beyond your EAP, there will be costs involved. You may opt to use your health insurance to pay for some of the expense but you will want to make sure you fully understand any costs associated with addiction treatment services before you enroll in a program.

    Can I Use EAP Benefits If I’m in Recovery?

    If you’ve already completed a drug detox or rehab program, your EAP benefits may still be beneficial to you in recovery. Regardless of how long you’ve been sober or what stage of recovery you’re in, an EAP can provide helpful treatment resources, education, and counseling to help you continue a lifestyle of sobriety while you continue working for your employer.

    Depending on your personal treatment needs in recovery, you may find some of these services to be beneficial while you learn how to manage your recovery after rehab:

    Depending on the benefits offered by your Employee Assistance Program, you may be able to use your EAP to receive personal referrals to sober living homes, counseling services, and many of the other services listed above.

    Addiction is a chronic disease that requires ongoing treatment and maintenance for recovery, but EAP benefits can help you get the treatment services you need to maintain your sobriety.

    What Can I Expect From EAP Counseling?

    man in counseling

    Immediate and short-term counseling services are available through your EAP to help you address your substance abuse problems. You can expect to discuss your substance abuse, related trauma, or other related life problems with an experienced counselor. The counselor’s goal is to help you determine the best course of action to resolve the problem(s). Your counseling sessions may involve a variety of different talk therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy or family therapy.

    Can I Be Fired For Using EAP?

    You cannot be fired for using your company’s EAP benefits. However, if complying with treatment is a condition of your ongoing employment and you fail to do so, you could potentially be fired or experience certain consequences that negatively affect your employment situation.

    Can Supervisors and Managers Use EAP Benefits?

    Yes, any employee who would benefit from confidential addiction treatment, counseling, or similar services listed above can access EAP benefits.

    How to Use EAP Benefits: 3 Simple Steps

    man calls eap provider

    Using your EAP benefits to tap into addiction treatment services is easier than you might think. Here are three simple steps you can follow to access your EAP benefits:

    1. Contact your EAP provider.

    Whether you already know your employer offers an EAP or you’re not sure, contacting your company’s Human Resources department is the best way to find out. Your employee handbook may also offer additional details on your Employee Assistance Program and how to access its benefits as an employee.

    1. Be prepared to provide identifying information.

    Although EAP services are completely confidential, you should be prepared to provide identifying information such as your name and your employer. Depending on the type of EAP your employer offers, you may need to contact your EAP directly and provide this information so that the consultant may accurately assess your personal treatment needs.

    1. Verify any costs associated with treatment services.

    While Employee Assistance Programs are a free service for employees and their loved ones, you may be responsible for covering some costs if you accept referrals to an outside organization or treatment center, such as an intensive outpatient program for addiction, a sober living program, or counseling services. However, an EAP representative can walk you through those costs and identify the most cost-effective services for your situation.


    An Employee Assistance Program is an excellent resource for employed people in all stages of addiction and recovery. If you’d like to learn more about how Eudaimonia works with EAP providers to help you sustain your recovery, call (512) 363-5914 today.



    1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/working-on-addiction-in-the-workplace-2017063011941
    2. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/whatisaneap.aspx
    3. https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/toolkit/provide-support
    4. https://fitsmallbusiness.com/what-is-an-eap-employee-assistance-program/
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