The non-stop headlines about opioid abuse are raising awareness among employers of the risks posed by workers who abuse prescription pain killers.
A recent survey of employers by the National Safety Council found that 70 percent reported their workplaces have been directly affected by opioids. The stereotypical back-alley junkie is no longer the focus. Instead millions of Americans are struggling with some level of abuse of prescription pain killers. About 100 Americans die every day from opioid addiction, more than car accidents or murders.
Experts trace the crisis to the late 1990s when pharmaceutical companies began offering new synthetic opiate formulations as effective pain relief for injuries and surgical recovery. Their popularity grew while their addictive potential flew under the radar. And ironically prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin have become gateway drugs to illegal heroin, which ends up being cheaper and easier to obtain for addicts once they lose access to legal pharmaceuticals.
Why this matters to employers:
- Job performance
- FMLA and ADA claims
- Drug-free workplace policies
- Drug testing
Professionals and executives are as susceptible to drug abuse as laborers or clerks. When drug use starts with prescription drugs, employers may find themselves in a dilemma. Treat or terminate? Do company health plans provide treatment coverage? If alcohol abusers are supported in treatment and recovery, why not drug users?
Avant Resources has created an employer training combining treatment and employment law perspectives. To learn more, please click the button below.