Addressing the Opioid Crisis as an Employer

According to a report from the National Center for Health and Statistics, more than 63,600 people died from a drug overdose in 2016. This rate equates to approximately 174 lives lost each day, which is more than three times the rate in 1999. The primary cause for this surge in drug-related fatalities is due to the growing presence of opioids, like heroin, fentanyl, and tramadol. Unfortunately, despite receiving a national public health emergency declaration, this opioid crisis is showing no signs of letting up.

In this article, we at Affordable Evaluations would like to share with you some more information regarding the opioid crisis. Specifically, as providers of professional and affordable alcohol and drug tests, we would like to share with employers some advice on how they can do their part in fighting the crisis and improving their business. If you are in the Houston area and are in need of drug testing, contact us today! Learn more about us and our professional services and drug evaluation programs.

Key Opioid Crisis Statistics

  • In the United States in 2016, there were more than 63,600 deaths caused by drug overdose.
  • West Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire had the highest number of overdose death rates in the country.
  • Adults between the ages of 25 and 54 had the highest overdose rate.
  • Men were more likely to die of an overdose than women.
  • The lowest drug overdose rates were found in Iowa, North Dakota, and Texas.
  • The number of people addicted to opioids climbed 493% from 2010 to 2016.

Addressing the Issue as an Employer

Although employers, alone, cannot successfully solve the country’s opioid addiction, they can play a big part in helping to reduce its stronghold. The following are a few ways that employers can assume a proactive role in addressing opioids in the workplace:

  • Implement a drug-free-workplace program—the first step in prohibiting drug abuse in your company is to have a clear and detailed written policy. Your written policy must reflect the specific actions required by both employees and employers. This will not only be the framework for creating an absolutely drug-free environment, but it will also help ensure that your business is protected from injuries, liabilities, and risks.
  • Educate your employees—it is not enough to have a drug-free policy in place. You must also educate your employees on the issue, especially on highly addictive opioids. This needs to be a regular occurrence, and supervisors should be trained at understanding the signs of impairment, addressing abuse, and enforcing policy.
  • Assist employees—if you have an employee who is battling an opioid addiction, assist them in getting drug abuse treatment. Research shows that when employers support and monitor their employees’ treatment, they are more likely to see better and more sustained recovery rates. Furthermore, if an employee loses his or her job because of a failed drug test or opioid use, he or she will likely become depressed, which can further the addiction and precipitate more drastic outcomes, like an accidental or intentional overdose.
  • Drug testing—over the years, there have been various studies that measure the incident rates of companies before and after they implement drug testing. Unsurprisingly, what these studies show is that not only does employee health improve but so does workplace safety.

Notes on Drug Testing

As we’ve mentioned before in previous blogs, there are a number of benefits to drug testing. It can optimize productivity, deter employees from succumbing to drug abuse, improve workplace safety, create a healthy workforce, and—when all of these positive effects occur—you can improve your bottom line.

The effectiveness of a drug testing program is largely determined by its structure. For example, companies that only require drug tests after an incident have a very limited deterrence value. The same can be said for drug tests that are just performed prior to employment—these tests do not account for the possibility of a drug addiction that forms during employment.

Additionally, when you decide to implement regular drug testing into your workplace, you will absolutely want to work with a reliable, professional, and certified drug testing service. At Affordable Evaluations, we take pride in offering the highest possible quality tests and always upholding the highest level of professionalism.

Lastly, when an employee who is battling addiction has an opportunity to receive professional help and also keep his or her job, both the employee and employer can enter into a mutually beneficial situation. Studies suggest that replacing an employee can cost an employer between 25 to 200% of annual compensation. This is, in part, why so many successful companies have employee assistance programs that will help employees in need of treatment. In fact, around 90% of Fortune 500 companies have an employee assistance program in place largely because they understand how important it can be to improving their bottom line.

Have questions about drug screening or our professional services? Contact us today! From individual DOT drug tests to company-wide drug screenings, the professional at Affordable Evaluations can provide the type of dependable and professional evaluation that you need.

We also partner with a dependable drug treatment center to provide quality substance abuse treatment. We are firm believers that no one wanting to overcome their addiction should be deterred by the price of treatment. This is why we always have our doors open to those who are seeking sobriety. Learn more and contact us with questions.

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