America`s Painkiller Epidemic and What You Can Do


Courtesy of Courtesy of SafetySmart

A new study conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC), along with Indiana’s attorney general has found that 80% of Indiana employers have been impacted by prescription drug misuse and abuse by employees.

80% is a substantial figure, causing some to refer to this trend as a painkiller epidemic.

This figure is not unique to Indiana, the NSC notes that the results would likely be similar if other states were surveyed.

Since 2010, the rate of death from opioid addition has tripled – with millions of Americans still addicted.

It is estimated that companies are losing up to $30 billion annually because of prescription drug abuse, with issues like productivity loss being a main factor. In addition, workers’ comp costs quadruple for employees taking painkillers.

In the workplace, employees who are drunk, high or otherwise under the influence of alcohol or drugs on the job pose safety risks to not only themselves but also their co-workers.

So what can employers do to address this problem?

According to a study from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA), supervisors can play a key role in curbing employees’ on-the-job use of drugs and alcohol—but only if they get the proper training.

“It’s only when employees think their supervisor knows how to detect substance use—and is willing to do something about it—that that employees’ drinking and drug use on the job decreases,” explains Michael Frone, PhD, senior research scientist at RIA and research associate professor of psychology.

Not only were employees found to drink less on the job when they suspected their supervisor could detect it, but they also took drugs less often both at work and at home.

The implications of a study like this could be a huge benefit to your company. By showing employees that not only are you aware of substance abuse habits, but that you are also willing to confront employees about it, rates could drastically be reduced.

Now is a good time to have a safety meeting about substance abuse, not only to deter use at your workplace, but also to provide employees with information on drug abuse services they can contact in your community.

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