As an employer, you may be aware that the U.S. has a problem with opioids. These powerful prescription drugs have sparked a public health crisis nationwide that claims tens of thousands of lives each year and devastates local communities. What you may not be aware of is exactly how this crisis affects your business. Well, here’s a sobering statistic for you: Employers, who help provide the vast majority of Americans’ private health insurance, paid for more than $2.6 billion worth of opioid addiction and overdose treatment services in 2016—and the problem has only gotten worse since then.
Helping to cover healthcare costs related to abuse and addition is only one way in which employers have been affected by the opioid crisis. In 2017, Princeton University economist Alan Krueger unveiled research finding that 20 percent of the drop in men’s labor force participation is attributable to drug addiction. That makes it far harder for businesses to find qualified workers, especially in industries that take a toll on the body. The National Safety Council released a survey on drug use and substance abuse in 2017 that showed that 15 percent of construction workers struggle with substance abuse—nearly twice the national average.
It’s not just construction and other blue-collar professions that are affected by the opioid crisis, however. Addiction issues can crop up in offices as well. Employees may not show up for work because of an opioid abuse problem, or maybe the quality of their work is suffering. In addition to the grief, costs their employers significantly in lost productivity.
In the worst-case scenario, employees succumb to opioid overdoses and die. The workplace grief caused by such a tragedy is difficult to put a price tag on.
Fortunately, there are steps an employer or business can take to help prevent opioid abuse and addiction in the workplace. The first step is a complete pre-employment drug screening program, but a useful plan can’t end there. Mandatory, random drug testing is the only consistently effective way to keep tabs on drug abuse in your workplace. Be on the lookout for warning signs of addition (e.g. mood swings, changes in energy level, tardiness, missed days, napping at workstations or in cars and signs of withdrawal.) Most importantly, audit your benefit strategy/plan to ensure that addiction treatment is available and accessible with quality in-network treatment providers. Employees are less likely to try to hide their addiction forever if they trust their employers to take positive steps to help them recover.
KRESS helps businesses large and small cope with the nationwide opioid crisis with smart, compliant drug and alcohol testing policies. Contact us today for a custom quote for our drug-free workplace services.