Can employers help stop the opioid crisis in the United States? The Opioid crisis reached epidemic levels in 2017, but so far not much is being done about it, even though there are now secondary outbreaks such as Hepatitis C affecting more than just drug users. Something has to be done, and employers might be able to pitch in.
Prescription drug abuse is one of the biggest drivers of this epidemic, and it can’t always be detected by drug screening. When employees have legitimate prescriptions for opioid medications they won’t be listed as a positive on a drug screen for legal reasons. Drug screening is a great way to detect illegal drugs or prescription medications being used without a prescription, so drug testing in the workplace is still one of many tools employers can use to prevent workplace issues that stem from drug abuse.
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Currently two thirds of HR professionals say that their workplaces have been or will be affected by drug abuse. Drug abuse in the workplace can lead to unsafe working conditions for everyone, and an astounding 31% of workplaces have experienced an overdose, arrest, or injury due to drug abuse on the job.
So what can workplaces do on top of existing drug testing policies to help combat the spread of the opioid crisis? Surprisingly, one of the simplest and most effective things to do is to provide a path for people who want it to get help. Oftentimes people are afraid of losing their jobs, even though Federal Law protects workers who go to rehab as it would someone who was dealing with any medical illness. But there are always exceptions and it’s enough to prevent people who want help from coming forward when they need it.
By simply putting a framework in place to help guide people to the opioid crisis help they need, workplaces can ensure that anyone who wants to get better has the opportunity to do so without losing their ability to support their families. Ensure rehabilitation facilities are covered by insurance or make it known that your company is willing to help with out of pocket expenses. Finally, set up a mentoring program to ensure a smooth transition back into the workforce after rehab is done.
The opioid crisis is going to need to be addressed from as many different directions as possible if we’re to stop it. Learn more about what businesses can do to prevent the opioid crisis from impacting their workplaces from this infographic from US Drug Test Centers.