Prescription Drug Addiction in the Workplace

The United States is suffering from an opioid crisis that affects families in all corners of the U.S. and in all walks of life. Prescription drugs are an enormous driver of opioid addiction, whether it is prescribed after surgery or provided by a family member or a friend. This epidemic inevitably spills over into the workplace as it continues to impact more lives. Employers have a higher need than ever to be on the lookout for hints of prescription drug addiction among their employees.

Prescription Drug Abuse at Work

What are the Signs of Abuse?

Just like no two employees are exactly the same, not all addictions present the same symptoms. Employers can look out for common signs like poor hygiene, frequent call-outs, failure to meet deadlines and appointments, and recent, unfocused behavior as possible markers of prescription drug abuse. Some cases of addiction may be the tip of the iceberg as employees use prescription drugs to fight depression or anxiety.

What can an Employer Do?

Every business should have a drug and alcohol policy that its employees sign on the first day. Employers should take additional measures to protect themselves and their employees, such as educating their employees on the dangers of drug abuse and the solutions that are available for addicts. Required drug tests for new employees should include a panel for opiates and employees should be made aware of the consequences of prescription drug abuse in the workplace. An employer who responds promptly to suspected prescription drug abuse may be able to get the employee the help they need before more drastic measures – like termination – are needed.

What Resources are Available?

The DEA has provided a Controlled Substance Public Disposal tool that allows people with leftover prescriptions. The best way to fight against addiction is to properly dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs, but many people are unaware of the safe disposal areas in their neighborhoods. This tool is designed to be an easy way to find locations that will take prescription medication. The EAP provides counselors for employees who are struggling with prescription drug abuse, and there are group-coverage insurance plans that include coverage for addiction treatment and counseling.

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