Root, Root, Root for the Home Team!

In baseball terms, we need a starting batting order for today’s game against COVID-19, addiction, and mental illness. They have a really strong team, but if we all play together, help one another, listen to one another, and do our jobs, maybe we can get a win today.

The importance of HR, employee assistance programs (EAPs), and peer support cannot be overstated these days as we continue to battle the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, there is a tremendous need for employer/employee wellness initiatives in regards to addiction recovery. As we all try and scramble through our impacted lives, let’s take a moment and breathe.

Baby steps, stagger, fall down. Get back up. Maintain balance. Recognize our personal and collective realities.

As the economy comes back to life, and we begin to think and navigate our next paths, the necessity of truth and accuracy has never been more vital. Most assuredly, we can and will look all the turmoil right in the face. BUT (and it is a very big but), we need to see not just what is in front of us. The unknown must become familiar—and that’s not just a “nice” to have, it is a “need” to have.

Consider this bucket: substance use, addiction, anxiety, depression, fears, isolation, stress, uncertainties.

Then add:

VUCA: Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity.

Working from home remotely is now another “add-on” to that negative list of turmoils we face.

According to an October 12, 2020, article published by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), the price tag of the psychological trauma and emotional harms of the pandemic is $1.58 trillion.

Recognizing the Issues

All organizations must recognize their own psychological issues, especially in the face of the pandemic. Mental health professionals have referred to addiction(s) and mental illness(s) as possibly being co-morbid. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a chronic relapsing brain disease that is characterized by drug seeking [alcohol and negative behavioral issues, too] and use despite adverse consequences.

For a business to survive today, the decision-makers must prepare for these enmeshed, interwoven, and parallel stressors that are impacting all of their enterprises and employees.

Perhaps your own organization and employees are not firing on all cylinders. How could they be?

Let me be clear, this article is not just about employee learning and development, computer skills, classroom-based training plans, or what I call “digitalia.” The global health crisis has crushed “in-person” everything.

Indeed, I have had to go to my therapy sessions with my psychiatrist virtually since the pandemic. [I am a four-decade-plus alcoholic who has been substance free for more than nine years now. On September 17, 2011, I was so drunk I fell through a glass table in my apartment.

That was my “aha!” moment.]

Company surveys can reveal strengths and weaknesses. Or they can mean nothing at all. It’s not just about skills training anymore. For many of “us,” it’s about survival.

Before the pandemic, addiction touched 1 in 5 people somehow, either themselves or someone they know. One in two Canadians over the age of 40 have experienced some form of mental illness. I would suggest that those numbers have increased, and that both society and businesses are not prepared.

What Does Biopsychosocialspiritual Mean?

In May 2021, SIMPLILEARN surveyed professionals around the globe in the L&D field about the effect the pandemic had on their new evolving roles. The results showed that “digital skills training is the most important.”

But in order to understand the dynamics of today, organizations must ask themselves: What does biopsychosocialspiritual really mean to an employer/employee, and how do you train on any techniques?

Today, so many brick-and-mortar organizations are disappearing. Work is being done and flowing remotely. Thankfully, there are several venues that will always be hands-on and people-centered.

Organizations are scrambling, and so are their employees. And not just in the work environment, but at home, too.

“Play Ball!”

Summer means baseball, and I am going to use that sport for an analogy.

All of the employees are the fans attending. The decision-makers are the managers and coaches.

The manager rallies their team by saying: “OK, everyone, here is the starting batting order for today’s game against COVID-19, addiction, and mental illness. They have a really strong team, but if we all play together, help one another, listen to one another, and do our jobs, maybe we can get a win today.”

The batting order:

  1. CEOs (Chief Executive Officer)
  2. CFOs (Chief Financial Officer)
  3. CLOs (Chief Learning Officer)
  4. CHROs (Chief Human Resources Officer)

As I was doing some research, the universe sent me a Website,, where I found the rest of the batting order.

  1. CXOs (Chief Experience Officer)
  2. CSOs (Chief Sustainability Officer)
  3. CINOs (Chief Innovation Officer)
  4. CTOs (Chief Technology Officer)
  5. COOs (Chief Operating Officer)
  6. CPOs (Chief Products Officer)

Addiction is not a choice. It is vicious and all encompassing. My booze and pills never lied to me.

Of course, they never told me the truth either. Today, I am equipped to deal with the truth.

I needed others who went down similar paths, and shared similar negative experiences. I needed therapists, counselors, and other alcoholics/addicts. That’s why I became a coach. It keeps me sober.

There is such a deluge of digital information today, with hundreds of e-mails where people want you to buy this, try this, do that. It’s like all the useless plastic that ends up in the ocean.

There are courses for everything. If this article hits the mark in some way, then I thank you for allowing me some of your precious time.

I have been blessed to host (on a volunteer basis) virtual addiction recovery meetings since April 2020. I help to create a safe space for men and women, all generations from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. There have been a lot of fears. Tears. Laughter. Happiness. Trust. Hope. Peace. If you or someone you know or love is struggling, get to a meeting.

For corporations, I urge you to protect your stockholders, assets, and especially your employees. Just as in the stock market, with society, there will be a “correction.”

Let those of us who know this journey help your HR and EAP professionals. Together, we can create therapeutic training programs.

Leo Petrilli, CDC, NCRC, NCIP, is an addiction recovery coach and human resources mentor. He is a trailblazer and a storyteller who lifts up others who are struggling with substances, anxiety, and depression. He has been down those paths, too.