Small Businesses Hit Hard by Addiction

Addicted employees cost American industry billions of dollars annually in lower productivity and higher healthcare costs. But for small businesses, a key employee becoming addicted can be devastating to the firm, the New York Times reported June 17.

Among small businesses, addiction is a greater threat because the companies often depend on a single individual for crucial tasks. The vulnerability is compounded by the tendency of small businesses to take no action.

“Sometimes people say they are so busy running the company that they don’t have time for an intervention, or they might not realize there’s a problem, or they want to avoid it,” said Rosalinda O’Neill, president of CEO LifeMentor, a management-training firm in Calabasas, Calif.

“Once these employees become addicted they start letting things go and trying to get away with it,” said Dr. Sheila Blume, professor of clinical psychiatry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. “Over time, especially in small businesses, this will affect the company’s reputation and their bottom line.”

According to a study in the March 2004 issue of the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, women in senior-management positions are more vulnerable to alcohol problems. About 14 percent of female executives admitted to misusing alcohol; furthermore, it’s more difficult for women than men to admit that they have a drinking problem, experts say.