How Individuals And Employers Can Combat The Growing Opioid Problem
Every year, around 60 million Americans take opioids. Out of that group, 20 million are at high risk of overdosing. The current national and statewide opioid and drug epidemic is staggering, and its impact on local communities, employers and citizens is huge. Not only does this crisis affect the nation’s economy, local economies feel the devastation associated with the opioid epidemic as well.
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Even though the United States isn’t the only country dealing with the growing opioid problem, economic and human costs in the U.S. are significantly higher. For examples, employers continue to express difficulties when it comes to finding and hiring drug-free workers.
Here in Ohio, researchers estimate the opioid crisis will cost each Ohio citizen $3,385 in healthcare and criminal justice spending along with reduced worker productivity. Sadly, Ohio had the third highest increase in overdose deaths in the U.S. from August 2016 to August 2017 and the outlook for 2019 doesn’t look any better as many researchers anticipate accidental overdoses will continue to increase.
Listen to episode 144, “Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic,” on unsuitable on Rea Radio, to hear Renee West talk about what employers can do to combat the opioid epidemic and it’s impact on our workforce.
What Can You Do?
The increasing number of hospitalizations and deaths from illicit drugs, prescriptions and opioids continues to hit America’s workforce hard. Today, as a result, the problem has grown too big for any one person to tackle alone. Instead, it’ll take a massive collaborative effort to beat it.
- Join A Coalition: Today, there are more than 700 Drug Free and community funded coalition efforts aimed at combating the crisis. Active coalitions are in operation across 62 Ohio counties. They help message, plan and execute drug abuse prevention efforts.
- Educational Courses: Whether you’re a student or an employee, seek out or request your organization to host educational programs in order to learn more about the opioid crisis. Taking part in these programs will help you develop important decision-making skills and give you a better understanding of drug misuse and how it can be combatted.
- Communicate: Having open discussions with your children, friends or colleagues – without judgement – is another effective way to fight the opioid epidemic. By educating and empowering others, this problem can be mitigated.
- Training: Begin training your employees on the importance of a drug-free workplace. Also, educating your supervisors or management on how to identify potential drug abuse in employees is critical to be effective.
- Update Policies: Take time to review and update your Employee Assistance Programs or any drug treatment programs you have in place for your employees. This will ensure that you’re providing your employees with the latest information.
The opioid epidemic isn’t an issue to take lightly, it’s extremely dangerous and can impact anybody at any time. Awareness, education and action are the key components when it comes to fighting back against opioid and drug abuse in Ohio.
Email Rea & Associates to learn how our HR Consulting Services can help you combat issues surrounding this opioid epidemic. You as the employer can assist with the safety and future of your business and employees.
By: Renee West, SHRM-SCP, PHR; Senior Human Resources Manager (New Philadelphia office)
Looking for other ways to get involved, or know someone who is struggling? Visit www.reacpa.com/Drug-Overdose-Resources for a list of resources available throughout Ohio.
Disclaimer: The HR Consulting services are based on the best knowledge of non-attorney specialists at Rea & Associates, Inc. Rea does not provide legal advice. You are encouraged to consult with legal counsel of your choice prior to implementing polices or procedures.