Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jun 2004
Source: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram (WI)
Copyright: 2004 Eau Claire Press
Author: Dr. Michael M. Miller


The passing of Samuel Johnson, who transformed Johnson Wax into the
internationally successful and acclaimed SC Johnson Corp., deserved
the front-page attention it received.

Johnson was a wonderful philanthropist and community activist. Among
his endeavors were his tireless efforts to reduce stigma about
alcoholism and other drug dependencies, and to improve treatment
opportunities for those with addiction.

Johnson informed the business community about how it is in their
business interest, not just an act of warm-heartedness or community
good will, to address alcoholism and other drug additions as the
health care problems that they are. These problems impact the
workforce by affecting productivity, absenteeism, workplace injuries,
and health care utilization.

Every company has valued employees on its workforce who have
alcoholism or other drug dependencies. For instance, 80 percent of
those with cocaine addiction are employed. The fact that these
individuals have addiction is often unknown to the employer; the
employer knows them as good employees who may have developed family
problems, distractibility, or may have even kept their disease from
surfacing at work altogether.

As health care costs continue to rise, one of the most effective
strategies for business is to provide health insurance benefits for
alcohol and other drug addiction and thus not create financial
barriers to access such treatment for employees.

Utilization of emergency rooms, hospitalization, and overall health
care costs decrease as a result of effective treatment of addiction.
Recovering persons are solid and, grateful employees, and to assist an
individual into recovery is a far better business proposition for
employers then recruiting and retraining someone to replace a valued
employee who happens to have developed this brain disease (as opposed
to some other neurologic or other medical condition).

Dr. Michael M. Miller

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