Prescription Drug Abuse: Being There for Your Employees Saves Money and Lives.

Recently, the National Safety Council released an eye-opening study about prescription drug abuse. According to the survey, 71% of employers are currently feeling the direct impact of prescription drug misuse in their workplaces. 65% say they would consider it a fireable offense. However, only 39% of employers view prescription drug use as a threat to safety, and only 24% feel it is a problem.

When it comes to prescription drug abuse, these responses have seemed to uncover a disconnect between an employer’s perception and the facts. Here are a few of those facts, also from the analysis:

  • Workers with substance use disorders miss nearly 50% more days than their peers.
  • The construction industry has twice the national average number of employees with substance use disorders.
  • Healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are 3 times the costs for an average employee.

Employers are most concerned about the costs of benefits, the ability to hire qualified workers, and the costs of worker’s compensation. Drug misuse impacts all of those concerns, but concern about prescription drug misuse and illegal drug sale were far lower. Here are a few more facts:

  • The cost of untreated substance use disorder ranges from $2,600 to more than $13,000 per employee, depending on the industry.
  • Healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are 3 times the costs for an average employee.
  • For some industries, employers could save more than $8,400 for each employee by providing assistance.

Most of those surveyed agree that drug abuse is a disease that needs treatment. And research concludes that if an employer is the one initiating the idea of going to treatment, a person is more likely to go through with it. Workers in recovery have lower turnover rates and are less likely to miss work days, less likely to be hospitalized, and have fewer doctors’ visits.

There’s no doubt about it. Talking about prescription drug abuse with your employees is an incredibly sensitive and uncomfortable subject to broach. But clearly, it is in both the company’s and the employee’s best interest to seek help together for prescription drug abuse. If you have any indication that there may be an employee or employees at your facility or organization with a problem, ignoring it will not only harm your employees but your business as well. Get a program in place now so that if this unfortunate trend becomes apparent at your workplace, you’ll already know the steps to take in order to put your employee on the road to recovery.

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