Take Nalmefene or You're Fired!

Through their Employee Assistance Programs [EAP], many employers deal with problem drinkers by mandating Alcoholics Anonymous [AA] or that the worker be fired. That might change, reports Bloomberg Business Week, if the new pharmaceutical nalmefene lives up to what its manufacturer H. Lundbeck A/S claims.

Nalmefene blocks brain signals that register pleasure in ingesting alcohol, says Lundbeck. As a result, the drinker could have one serving of alcohol, minus the problematic craving to have a lot more than one.

This approach to preventing problem drinking differs from that of AA, which requires total abstinence from alcohol. And that might make all the difference in the willingness of impaired employees to accept their employer's intervention.

With nalmefene, employers may only mandate that the pill be taken, not that employees buy into the total abstinence idea of AA, with its attendance at meetings and embrace of the tenets of the 12-step program. Such a simple type of treatment could be more effective than that of AA. Because AA is based on being anonymous, it is difficult to track effectiveness. However, the best guesses by experts is that the success rate for AA is low.

If the nalmefene pill approach works, the result could be profound cost savings in business. According to the George Washington University Medical Center, problem drinking reduces worker productivity about $135 billion each year.

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