The prescription drug crisis hits the workplace

Drug abuse in the workforce is a growing challenge for American business. Increasingly, it’s legal drugs that are having a negative affect.

Most media outlets right now focus attention on the opioid epidemic’s role in keeping people out of work, but two-thirds of those who report misusing pain-relievers are already employed.

This does not only affect productivity, it’s outright dangerous.

In fact, a study by the National Safety Council (NSC) showed that worker’s comp claims for addicted employees can be up to 900 percent higher than other workers.

“Employers have a moral and legal responsibility to protect their employees. Addressing the use and abuse of prescription painkillers is as important as identifying drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman.

The NSC also reported that 29 percent of employers reported impaired job performance due to prescription-painkiller use, while 15 percent cited an injury or near miss that they attributed to the drugs.

As many as 70 percent said their workforce had been affected in some way.

Be proactive

The most important piece of advice we can offer to minimize your risk? Be proactive, not reactive.

Employers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their employees:

  • Recognize prescription drugs impact the bottom line
  • Enact strong company drug policies
  • Expand drug panel testing to include opioids
  • Train supervisors and employees to spot the first signs of drug misuse
  • Treat substance abuse as a disease
  • Leverage employee assistance programs to help employees return to work

If you’re considering starting a drug testing program at your workplace, or improving one that already exists, be aware of the fact that there are a few key mistakes that many employers make. Take a look – and contact our team if you have any questions.

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