Misuse of Prescription Medication Impacts 70% of Businesses

Itasca, IL – This month, the National Safety Council (NSC) released a survey showing that extent of opioid misuse in the United States, that should concern all business owners.  More than 70% of U.S. employers are feeling the direct impact of prescription drug misuse in their workplaces.  The NSC states that it is the first of its kind in the nation.  Most employers believe that prescription drug misuse is a disease that requires treatment, but most agree that misuse of prescription medication is also a justifiable reason to fire an employee.

Drug poisonings, largely from opioid painkillers, now eclipse car crashes as the leading cause of preventable death among adults.  Nearly half of Americans are personally impacted by prescription drug addiction, with 44% knowing someone who is addicted to a prescription pain reliever.  Seventy-five percent of individuals struggling with a substance use disorder are employed, revealing that there is an often hidden epidemic that many employers are not sure how to address.

Other key findings from the NSC survey include:

  • 19% of employers feel “extremely prepared” to deal with prescription drug misuse in the workplace
  • Just 13% are “very confident” that employees can spot the signs of misuse, but 76% do not offer training to help close that knowledge gap
  • 81% of respondents’ policies lack a critical element of an effective drug-free workplace program
  • 41% of employers are not testing for synthetic opioids
  • Although 88% of employers are interested in their insurer covering alternatives to pain relief treatment so that employees can avoid taking opioids, but 30% of those employers will not act on that interest

Employers can take steps to evaluate their drug-free workplace and address potential opioid abuse.

  1. Add prescription drug testing to traditional illicit drug testing.  A standard opioid screen will not detect methadone or oxycodone.  Discuss options with your collection site, and amending your policy.
  2. Develop procedures regarding how suspected non-medical prescription drug use will be identified, evaluated, treated and the conditions for continued employment.  How will suspected non-medical prescription use be handled and the conditions that need to be met before an employee can return to work.
  3. Educate management and supervisory staff about the signs of nonmedical prescription drug use and the procedures to follow to help an employee who is suspected to have a problem.
  4. Review EEOC guidance on prescription drug use and know how to differentiate between legal and non-medical prescription drug use.
  5. Consult a knowledgable HR or legal advisor before taking adverse employment action against an employee with a valid prescription for an opioid or other narcotic medication.

Consultstu LLC provides fractional HR services to small/mid businesses to lower operational costs, improve business processes and comply with workplace regulations.  We deliver customized HR and safety solutions that provide protection from expensive mistakes and strategies to improve workplace results. Call us at 727-350-0370 or visit http://www.consultstu.com

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