Business of Well-being

The Importance of Helping Workers Overcome Addiction

Personal wellness and corporate wellness are inseparable: The latter is impossible without the former because, if a company's best workers endure emotional trauma and physical pain, if any employee is in the throes of addiction - depressed, exhausted and vulnerable - that individual not only needs help; that man or woman needs to know, and his or her employer needs to prove, that all will, indeed, be well.

That statement is no rhetorical crutch; it is not false assurance to pacify an employee battling alcoholism or drug addiction. That assertion, on the contrary, is an expression of first principles by a company that understands the relationship between a healthy person and a thriving workplace. Consider this column, therefore, a sequel to my previous piece about choosing the right treatment center because, to get from "there" (where a person is right now) to "here" (a sanctuary of healing and safety), requires an investment - even a symbolic one - by a company concerned about its employees.

This commitment can be financial, as part of an overall wellness program, or it can be privately supportive, a means of showing good faith and ensuring goodwill toward an employee. For, once a company acknowledges that its greatest strength is not just some product or service, wrapped, shipped and delivered to your doorstep, but instead, its most valuable asset is a person - the manager down the hall, the adviser around the corner or the programmer one floor over - only then will that business discover the only real truth; that there are no profits - there are no corporate prophets - without people.

I offer this fact by way of experience, a lot of experience, because, as the Founder and Executive Director of La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center (, I know how destructive addiction can be. And yet, I also know how many brilliant people - gifted professionals who give a company a sense of purpose - need help overcoming addiction. These individuals should not have to bear the added crucible of uncertainty, the fear that they will lose their jobs (and thus, lose their own sense of purpose), if their employer learns about their struggles with alcohol, or prescription drugs, opiates and painkillers.

A workplace can be a blessing, not a burden; it can be a source of careers, not just jobs, because the difference between the two - and its effect on how a company operates - is profound. A career is something a person pursues, something he or she wants, while a job is often nothing more than that: The adult equivalent of doing homework, for an hourly wage, so one can pay bills, buy food and purchase the bare necessities.

Make no mistake, there are millions of unemployed Americans who would rejoice at the chance to have a job, to rejoin the workforce, and contribute to the growth of the economy. These individuals are not immune from the struggles of addiction, but my larger point, about the need for companies to stand behind their career employees, is a sign of moral conscience and conscientious goodwill.

A company should no sooner deprive itself of its most creative people than it should deny the value of these men and women. So, from this writer who thinks differently, I want to remind readers - and employers - to "Think different" by remembering "The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

"They push the human race forward because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. That is how businesses achieve greatness. That is how people accomplish great things. And that is how companies can help their workers overcome great challenges. Recovery is the path to success.

About the Author

Manny Rodriguez is the Executive Director of La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center, located in the heart of Hollywood, California, that offers men and women an integrated approach to overcoming drug and alcohol addiction through clinical therapy, 12-step involvement, nutrition, fitness and community support.

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