More than 70 percent of employers in the United States are reportedly feeling the impact of prescription drug abuse in their workplaces, according to the National Safety Council.
According to a survey conducted by the NSC, 71 percent of employers agree that misuse of drugs have a direct impact on the company. This percentage also represents the number of employers who believe that prescription drug misuse is a disease that requires treatment in order to be cured. Despite this finding, only 65 percent of these employers feel that it is a justifiable reason to fire an employee.
Meanwhile, the National Safety Council found that only 19 percent of employers feel “extremely prepared” to deal with this problem in the workplace, the others doubting if they are equipped to handle drug misuse. Among the employers who regularly conduct drug testing, 41 percent were revealed to be skipping on the synthetic opioids testing.
National Safety Council president and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman emphasized the need for drug testing in workplaces.
“Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees’ medicine cabinets,” Hersman said. “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.”
In addition to these findings, NSC states that nearly half of Americans are personally impacted by prescription drug addiction, having 44 percent of the population knowing someone who is addicted to a prescribed pain reliever.
Seventy-five percent of people struggling with substance use disorder are in the workforce, giving an explanation as to why this problem has persisted and why employers are yet to figure out a fair solution for it.
The survey states that only 13 percent of the employers are “very confident” in their employees’ ability to identify the signs of drug misuse in their co-workers. For this reason, it is even more surprising that 76 percent of these employers do not offer any training to provide the necessary information.
The research further points that drug poisonings, largely from opioid painkillers, have taken the spot as the leading cause of preventable deaths among adults. The number has reportedly reached higher than the number of car crashes.
The good news is that 70 percent of employers are interested in helping employees who are struggling with prescription drug misuse, by making sure they can return to their positions after completing their treatment. 60 percent are also interested in working with their insurance company to help employees avoid taking opioids. However, half of those employers have admitted that they won’t likely act on that interest.
The National Safety Council provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help the companies establish policies and manage opiod use at work. The NSC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce, if not completely eliminate, preventable deaths at work, as well as in homes and entire communities.