A new survey by the National Safety Council taken last month revealed that 70 percent of businesses say that prescription drug use – particularly use of narcotic painkillers – has affected their business.
According to the CDC, 91 people per day are dying in America from prescription drugs and heroin overdoses. And it’s not just a problem that is affecting the stereotypical homeless junkie on the corner begging for money.
The face of addiction has changed. We see normal, middle-class people with good jobs, getting hooked on opioids at an alarming rate. Probably the last place you would look for a drug addict is in the suburbs.
They are there, however, and once they get to work, their addictions are costing businesses. Nationally, employers are losing $10 billion a year in lost days and lost production at work.
Nearly 1/3 of painkiller prescriptions are paid for by big companies in the United States through insurance plans. One in 20 workers has used a pain killer on the job with 4.5 percent having demonstrated a sign of abuse. Among baby boomers, the number is closer to 7.5 percent.
To combat the problem of opioid use in the workplace, the NSC recommends incorporating the following steps to monitor their use:
A clear, written policy: Together with a company’s legal department, a policy should be put in place – similar to a company’s restrictions on the use of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Employee education: Keeping in mind that the employee-patient relationship is a confidential one, employees should still be educated about the dangers of opioids in the workplace. The education process should include the dangers of operating heavy equipment while on medication, the risks of driving on pain pills, safe storage and the fact that they should not share their medication with fellow employees.
Supervisor training: Management should be current on the workplace’s prescription drug policy and educated on how to identify possible employee abuse. Managers need to understand that a person with a disability is protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act and not infringe upon his or her rights.
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP): The cost of helping an employee who might have a problem with opioid abuse proves to be 25 – 200 percent more cost effective than replacing that person. Not only does a company suffer the loss of knowledge and production from an employee it might decide to terminate, it also is leaving someone in a dangerous position to himself or society in general.
Drug testing: Research has shown that drug-testing in the workplace brings down the number of accidents. Employers and those who are conducting the drug screens need to be aware that recently, with the easy access to synthetic urine over the Internet, those who are abusing drugs have found ways to skirt the system. Currently, only 14 states in the U.S. ban the sale and purchase of synthetic urine.
There really is no other reason that a person would want synthetic urine other than to use it to beat a drug test. Businesses that do drug test employees on a regular basis are running into a problem with synthetic urine that drug abusers are using to beat tests.