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Prescription drug misuse impacts 71% of U.S. workplaces

More than 70% of U.S. employers are feeling the direct impact of prescription drug misuse in their workplaces, according to a survey released by the National Safety Council.

It’s a significant sign that employers should be focusing on how legal substances, as well as illegal, can affect their organization. In fact, nearly half of Americans are personally impacted by prescription drug addiction and 75% of those struggling with a substance use disorder are currently in the workforce.

“Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees’ medicine cabinets,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Even when they are taken as prescribed, prescription drugs and opioids can impair workers and create hazards on the job. We hope these findings prompt employers to take the lead on this emerging issue so that workplaces can be as safe as possible.”

Many employers consider prescription drug use a private issue and one that doesn’t pertain to the workplace. That’s simply not how this issue should be perceived.

Beyond the financial, productivity, and workplace safety considerations, studies indicate that employer supported and monitored treatment yields better sustained recovery rates than treatment initiated at the request of friends and family members.

While 70% of employers would like to help employees struggling with prescription drug misuse return to their positions after completing treatment, only 19% feel “extremely prepared” to deal with prescription drug misuse in the workplace.

To help with this, the NSC  provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to direct employers in establishing policies.

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