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Returning to Work People Treated for Alcoholism and Other Drug Addiction

Adoption Date:
April 1, 1989; rev. April 1, 2009

Public Policy Statement on Returning to Work People Treated for Alcoholism and Other Drug Addiction

**Note: This historical policy statement is available as part of ASAM's Policy Archives, but it is no longer considered current ASAM policy. Please contact ASAM's advocacy staff at advocacy@asam.org for questions related to ASAM's position on this topic.



Alcoholism and other drug addiction are recognized as diseases by competent medical authorities worldwide. Untreated, these diseases lead to progressive deterioration in all areas of life, including work.

In contrast, the majority of persons who receive appropriate treatment are able to arrest the disease process and return to full health and productivity. Employers who foster early identification and treatment, and who return treated employees to their chosen career track without prejudice, have reaped rich rewards. Valuable experienced employees are retained, and the expenses of recruiting and training a new employee are saved.

Employers who take a punitive approach, by dismissing these employees or by limiting their career development, harm their companies as well as their employees, by losing the opportunity for early identification.

Assurance of safety can be accomplished through a program of monitoring continuing recovery. Such policies have been successful in returning physicians, airplane pilots, and many others to fully productive functioning.

Policy Recommendations

ASAM strongly recommends that all employers pursue a policy of early identification of alcoholism and other drug addiction in their employees, with provision for appropriate treatment and return to their career track without prejudice.