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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in substance abuse

Patterns of addiction usually increase during natural disasters and pandemics. This past year, many people were quarantined and struggling with economic uncertainties, while also juggling school and work schedules and everything in between. Those who were already struggling with pre-existing mental illnesses or substance abuse issues may have turned to illicit substance use as a way to cope with the extra distress of the past year, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the opioid crisis – some studies showing that 2020 will be the worst year for opioid overdoses.

This year’s National Prevention Week is May 9-15, and this public education platform focuses on promoting prevention year-round through providing ideas, capacity building, tools, and resources to help individuals and communities make substance use prevention happen every day. Alcohol and drug use in the workplace causes many expensive problems, including lost productivity, injuries and an increase in health insurance claims – loss to companies is estimated to be $100 billion a year, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI).

According to NCADI statistics, alcohol and drug users are far less productive, use 3X as many sick days, are more likely to injure themselves or someone else, and are 5x more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim. It’s important for the safety of your employees, as well as the health of your company, to establish a drug-free workplace program. Most successful drug-free workplace programs have five key components:

1. A written policy
2. Employee education
3. Supervisor training
4. An employee assistance program (EAP)
5. Drug testing

For an explanation of these, as well as a Drug-Free Workplace Toolkit provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), check out their website. Saying this past year has been a tough year is an understatement. Taking firm steps to help keep your employees safe and healthy should be a priority.

Drug abuse and addiction cost United States companies $81 billion every year, accounting for absenteeism, healthcare costs and loss of productivity. Some may think those struggling with substance abuse are not holding down a job, but according to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD), more than 70 percent of those abusing illicit drugs in the United States are employed.

Another study found about 1 in 13 working adults has an alcohol use disorder, and 13 percent of men and 5 percent of women reported binge drinking at least once a week. Such occupations as emergency workers, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing and construction are at increased risk of alcohol abuse. Taking into account prescription pain medication and the opioid crisis, it is estimated that workers in construction and extraction experience the highest rates - 15.6 percent living with a substance use disorder.

National Prevention Week is recognized every May, and for this year, it is May 11-15. The three primary goals of this week are to:
1. Involve communities in raising awareness of substance use and mental health issues and implementing prevention strategies
2. Foster partnerships and collaborations with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to improving public health; and
3. Promote and disseminate quality substance use prevention and mental health promotion resources and publications.

Substance abuse in the workplace can lead to lowered productivity, physical injuries, and fatalities, and a national study found approximately 16 percent of emergency room patients injured at work were found to have alcohol in their system. Most addiction sufferers hide their drug and alcohol use from employers and coworkers, but there are known red flags including:
• Avoiding coworkers and friends and irrationally blame them for personal mistakes
• Openly talking about money problems
• A decline in personal appearance or hygiene
• Complaints of failing relationships at home
• Taking time off for vague illnesses or family problems

As an employer, reading these signs and having steps in place to help your employees is good practice for both your business’s and your team’s health and safety. Though most employed adults will not want to take time off from work for an inpatient treatment program, there are outpatient programs that can help them recover while still retaining a sense of normalcy at work. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available as a benefit for many businesses, and they can help addiction sufferers and their families by letting them know of community resources for both emotional support and treatment.

Substance abuse, be it alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription medications, is costing businesses billions of dollars each year. Taking steps to offer programs and solutions for your employees is a win-win.

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