Opioid addiction has turned our country upside in the last few years, becoming the worst health crisis of the last 100 years. The New York Times recently reported that drug overdose deaths will more than likely exceed 59,000 for 2016, a 19% increase from 2015. What’s more, all evidence suggests that the problem will only worsen for this year. Opioid addiction has certainly become a threat to all of America, ripping families apart, affecting the foster care system, changing how law enforcement does their job, and now, even affecting U.S. employers. New data reveals many results regarding our workforce and opioid addiction, but probably the most shocking of those findings is the fact that drug abuse is now costing our employers $12 billion annually.
The Bloomberg News Report
The data, collected by Bloomberg News, reports on several topics surrounding opioid addiction within the workplace. Along with the high economic toll this epidemic has taken on employers, the data also reveals that 12% of U.S. workers are under the influence of drugs while on the job. This can include both legal prescriptions and more illicit substances, such as heroin or Fentanyl. The percentage is even higher for those who work in the manufacturing industry, trucking, and field of construction. Bloomberg News credits these percentages to the lack of drug testing involved in the workplace. Although many companies require drug screenings for new hires and current employees, many panels do not test for very common prescription medications.
Dr. Todd Simo, chief medical officer for employment background check provider HireRight, told Bloomberg News, “Testing for opioid and opiate abuse is complicated. While the average drug test does include some opiate and opioid screening, the focus is on illegal substances. Many employers don’t test for oxycodone, Fentanyl, or Demerol.” He added, “Workplace programs are designed around deterrents, and not specifically detection. The purpose is to deter people from using illegal drugs, but it’s much more difficult to deter employees from using legal substances.”
Along with a complicated drug screening process, another major issue is the matter of being able to detect opioid addiction within the workplace. Unlike alcohol or some illicit drugs, opioid users are better able to hide their drug abuse. Some signs employers and HR should keep an eye out for include, increased accidents/incidents, excessive time off/tardiness, and decreased work performance. These signs all contribute to the rise in cost to employers. Ultimately, offering help and treatment to employees will lower health insurance premiums and decrease employee turnover & training costs.
What Employers Can Do To Assist In The Fight Against Opioid Addiction
As opioid addiction continues to plague our country, the way we speak and feel about drug abuse is finally beginning to change. Nevertheless, many employers are behind the times in handling on the job use and understanding the need for treatment. New data compiled by The National Safety Council reveals that although 71% of employers believe addiction is a disease that should be treated like any other chronic health condition, 65% think drug abuse is a justifiable reason to terminate an employee. Furthermore, only 19% feel prepared enough to handle opioid addiction within the workplace and 76% do not offer training to identify drug abuse.
Considering the alarming rates of those affected by opioid addiction within the work place, there are many steps in which employers can take to aid in this ever growing problem. Some necessary steps can include:
- Recognize that prescription drug use is impacting your workplace
- Expand drug panels to include ALL opioids, including synthetic opioids
- Treat opioid addiction, and other addictions, as a disease
- Improve training methods for all employees to recognize drug misuse on the job
- This includes training in handling an overdose situation and how to administer Narcan if appropriate
- Improve training for supervisors in appropriate ways to handle addressing suspected drug abuse.
- Establish stronger policies & procedures
- Utilize EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) and/or HR departments to assist in employees returning to work after treatment
Clearly, U.S. employers are being hit especially hard by opioid addiction and the drug epidemic. While many may certainly have the necessary policies in place to handle these situations, some are still lacking crucial tools and understanding in handling drug abuse on the job. Yes, this may be an uphill battle, but probably the most important thing for employers to remember is this: compassion, understanding, and support for an employee who is struggling with addiction is vital for the person’s success. Many employees who struggle with opioid addiction never seek help, because they are fearful of losing their job and/or being judged by their superiors and co-workers. When employees know that resources are available to them, they are more likely seek help faster. And ultimately, offering an employee the treatment they need makes the most economic sense to companies as well.
Contact Clearbrook For Opioid Addiction Treatment
Are you or someone you love struggling with opioid addiction? If so, you should know that help is available. For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been treating alcoholism and chemical dependency, while also providing support and education to the family. From customized medical detox protocols to individualized therapy, you or your loved one will be provided effective and quality treatment that offers the most potential for continued success. If you are ready to take the first step, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. We are available 24 hours a day to assist you in anyway we can.
ARE YOU OR SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT STRUGGLING WITH DRUGS OR ALCOHOL?
CALL CLEARBROOK TREATMENT CENTERS NOW AT 1-800-582-6241