The Opioid Epidemic costs the U.S. economy over $95 billion annually, with employers paying $18 billion of that themselves. These numbers are expected to continue to rise, making it even more important for employers to design initiatives to help combat the problem.
1. Understand the Impact
Employers across the country are working to curb misuse of prescription opioids. With more employees falling victim to addiction, employers are seeing lower productivity, higher health care costs and fewer qualified job applicants. When so much of the workforce is at risk for opioid abuse, this can put a strain on benefit programs - especially health care costs. It can be hard to identify illegitimate use so employers need to try more unique approaches to curb abuse. Addressing the problem with employees directly can be a good place to start.
2. Educate Your Employees
Even if employees are not using opioids themselves, their lives may be affected by co-workers or family members who do. This can directly affect job performance and can contribute to the overall crisis. Employers should do their best to provide employees with educational materials to help them understand and take action if needed.
3. Explain the Risks
Remind employees about the tragic side effects of addiction. This can help motivate some employees to abstain from use or seek treatment.
4. Encourage Employees to Speak With a Doctor
Some employees do not think to speak to their doctors about opioid abuse in fear of losing their prescriptions. This is another important point to make during education sessions on opioid use. Reassure employees that their doctors are there to help, and not get them in trouble for misusing medication.
5. Promote Your Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
Employee Assistance Programs can be extremely beneficial for your workforce. Programs geared specifically toward opioids can help employees deal with debilitating addiction and put energy back into their work.
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