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National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month: September

By Jennifer Anderson
Published: September 9, 2015 | Last updated: June 14, 2017 06:53:10
Key Takeaways

How to help employees with substance abuse problems.

Source: Maigi/

September is National Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Recovery Month. In its twenty-third year “Recovery Month” seeks to educate Americans about addiction treatment and mental health services and how these services can enable those with substance use and abuse problems to conquer their dependence.

The focus of National Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Recovery is to acknowledge and commend gains made by those in recovery. Recovery Month spreads a positive message that treatment is effective. People can recover. As a matter of fact, National Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Recovery Month highlights success stories of people who have overcome addictions and the people and organizations that have helped them.

During this month, thousands of American prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and services celebrate their successes with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. The Recovery Month activities focus on educating the public about recovery and prevention programs and how they work. During this month, thousands of successes that often go unnoticed will have the spotlight shone on them.


Substance abuse is a serious problem in America. Its toll affects individuals, their families, businesses and the healthcare system. In its annual survey, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported in 2013 that there has been an increase in substance use. Nearly twenty-five million Americans over the age of twelve have used an illegal drug in the past month. This is nearly ten percent of the American population. Marijuana use in particular is on the rise. While cocaine use has decreased, and the use of methamphetamines has increased according to the 2013 study. In 2013 there were 595,000 admitted meth users, compared with 353,000 in 2010.

While drug use was highest in people in their teens and early twenties, it showed a marked increase in people in their fifties and early sixties as well.

Alcohol use by people in their teens and early twenties declined from 28.8 in 2002 to 22.7 percent in 2013. Binge drinking in this age group declined from 19.3 to 14.2 percent, while heavy drinking went from 6.2 to 3.7 percent in 2013.

After alcohol, marijuana has the highest rate of dependence and substance abuse. In 2013, 4.2 million Americans were declared eligible for treatment for abuse of marijuana. This is more than twice the number for dependence/abuse of prescription pain relievers (1.9 million) and nearly five times the number for dependence/abuse of cocaine (855,000).

Substance abuse is a huge cost to the nation, as it costs the USA over $600 billion annually. Effective treatment programs, though, can reduce these costs. Drug addiction treatment is much less expensive than such alternatives as incarceration. The average cost for a year of methadone maintenance treatment is $4,700 per patient compared to the $24,000 per person for costs of imprisonment. Moreover, every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of $4 to $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft. Add healthcare savings and the gains can be as high as $12 return on every dollar spent on prevention and treatment of substance use.

Other so-called soft returns include fewer interpersonal conflicts, greater workplace productivity, and fewer substance-related accidents and deaths.

Most substance users are employed, and substance use rates are especially high in the construction industry. Nearly 17% of the participants in a study of the construction industry reported current drug use. The degree of that use differed dramatically from site to site and from individual to individual. This is alarming when compared to an 8% substance use rate based on self-reported survey results by full-time American workers in general between the ages of 18-49.

The construction industry also tops the injury/death rate. The fact that substance abuse causes 35% of all workplace injuries and fatalities makes this even more worrisome

Besides healthcare, death, and injuries, another area of costs to industries like construction include worker absenteeism. 35% of all worker absences are a result of substance abuse. Another area of high cost to industries is worker compensation. Substance abuse accounts for nearly 45% of all workers' compensation claims. Combined, these figures indicate it is financially advantageous for construction company owners to advocate for employee assistance programs with support Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Recovery.


Construction Owners’ Associations in Canada and United States have in place an alcohol and drug use policy intended to ensure the safety of all stakeholders involved in construction workplace sites. The implementation of a standard policy for addressing the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace is intended to reduce confusion, redundancy and discrepancies, which may have existed when there was no uniform policy. The standardization ensures that all workers with identified substance abuse issues be given the opportunity to attend recovery programs and to have their illness treated fairly.

Because the construction industry has a strong commitment to worker health and safety, the industry does its utmost to ensure all employees, service providers, and members of the general public are provided with a safe, healthy and reliable workplace. It is recognized that the inappropriate use substances can have serious negative effects on the physical and mental well-being of workers, service providers, and the public.

Construction companies are encouraged to provide to their employees awareness, prevention, and recovery resources related to the abuse of alcohol and drugs. To this end, some companies are seeking the services of substance abuse workshop leaders, group seminars and other means of educating their workers to the dangers inherent in substance abuse in and out of the workplace. The National Counsel on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence offers many resources for assisting in this initiative on their website.


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Written by Jennifer Anderson

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