Developing Policies and Practices

Having appropriate mental health and SUD coverage for employees is an important part of the medical coverage you provide.

Consider:

  • Asking your medical plan carrier for detailed information on what your plan covers to determine if any changes are needed
  • Adding alternative pain therapies to your plan such as acupuncture, mindfulness training and extended Physical Therapy benefits
  • Checking with your Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) to see if they have an Opioid Prescribing Program you can add to your plan

CASAColumbia has identified a list of critical addiction-related health services to include in your insurance plans.


When seeking treatment for SUD or helping a family member with SUD, employees may need time away from work. Privacy concerns can often be a barrier for employees seeking the time off they need to address the problem.

  • Ensure information on how to apply for a leave and the requirements are readily available to employees such as posting the information on the company's employee portal or intranet site
  • Ensure training of leave administrators, including the use of non-stigmatizing language and being sensitive to how an employee may feel coming forward with this condition
  • Include information on your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in all leave approval letters
  • Share the business case to managers that the benefits of treatment and support during recovery will reduce ongoing absenteeism

When writing or updating pertinent Human Resources policies, consider calling out the employees' rights to privately seek treatment and avoid disciplinary action.

Policies where you may consider including this language are Leave of Absence/FMLA, Drug and Alcohol and Employee Conduct.

In drug and alcohol and employee conduct policies, include a section that addresses employees with SUDs, such as:

  • A statement of support for employees in recovery and;
  • Where employees can seek treatment (EAP, Medical Plan etc.) to prevent performance or disciplinary issues from occurring
  • Visit the Federal Register for Mandatory guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs

Once you determine the impact of SUDs on your employees and organization you may want to begin to think through a support group model or Employee Resource Group (ERG) based on your survey. Employees may stress the need for the following important requirements:

  • Off-site location
  • Confidentiality
  • Judgment and stigma free support
  • Led by an experienced SUD professional e.g. a social worker, psychologist

There are a number of national and local resources available including those at the Grayken Center, and through organizations found in National and Local Resources of this site.


The initial rollout of your program should begin with an introduction of your education efforts around the SUD epidemic. Ultimately, you know what will work best for your organization, however you may want to consider beginning your SUD program around National Recovery Month in September.

During National Recovery Month some of the actions you can take to engage your employees are as follows:

  • Share CEO Commitment Letter
  • Share Stigma Pledge Campaign
  • Place visuals around your locations
  • Hold peer led Lunch & Learns / Panel Discussions
  • See SAMHSA for events and sample promotional materials

If you find opioid use to be a significant concern onsite for your organization, or from your medical claims review, employee survey, or focus group feedback, you might consider having Naloxone on-site.

  • In all states and at most pharmacies, Naloxone (and Naloxone Rescue Kits) can be dispensed from a 'standing order' (meaning no individual prescription is required). See state specific naloxone laws here
  • Anyone at your organization can be trained to administer Naloxone, no clinical experience is required, although training is needed
  • Training can be provided by a dispensing pharmacist, or you can contact your state's Board of Pharmacy or Department of Public Health to learn about local training and dispensing programs
  • OSHA has developed a naloxone factsheet for employers: "Using Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose in the Workplace: Information for Employers and Workers"