Loss Control Insights
Combatting Prescription Drug Abuse
Each year, substance abuse costs the United States billions of dollars in expenditures for health care, workplace injuries, disability payments and productivity losses.
The New Workplace Epidemic
Many employers think of substance abuse as only relating to alcohol and illicit drugs, but because of their ease of accessibility, misuse of prescription drugs is among the fastest growing substance abuse problems in the workplace.
- Prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused category of drugs, behind alcohol and marijuana (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence).
- The misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers were responsible for more than 475,000 emergency room visits in 2009, a number that nearly doubled in the last five years (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services).
- More than 12 million people reported using prescription painkillers nonmedically in 2010 (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services).
Preventing and Treating Prescription Drug Abuse
Substance abuse should be viewed as a chronic, manageable condition similar to other chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes and cardiovascular disease) that are targeted in a wellness program.
Because substance abuse of any kind threatens the health and safety of individuals, other employees, customers and your company, you need to establish a proactive and aggressive substance abuse and mandatory drugfree workplace program that incorporates the following components:
- Drug testing during the hiring process, random testing, suspicion testing and postaccident testing
- Access to an employee assistance program that provides short-term counseling and referral services for employees dealing with substance abuse problems
- Educational programs that make employees aware of the health and other dangers related to prescription drug abuse
- A supportive environment in which employees dealing with prescription drug abuse can seek confidential advice about treatment options
- Training programs for supervisors and managers about ways to identify, report and respond to prescription drug abuse situations
Prevention Begins With Information
As with other health conditions, the more information you have about prescription drug abuse, the better you will be able to provide a safer and healthier workplace for employees. Count on EMC® to provide valuable resources that can answer wellness or injury management questions and guide you in the right direction to help manage substance abuse and establish a drug-free workplace.