Monday, April 3, 2017

Seventy percent of U.S. workplaces affected by opioid abuse

A report from the National Safety Council (NSC) confirmed that the epidemic of opioid misuse in the country is affecting workplaces nationwide. Seven in 10 workplaces say they’ve seen the impact of opioid abuse on their workforce.

The NSC also found that 71 percent of employers believe opioid abuse is a disease that requires treatment, but 65 percent consider it a firing offense.

"Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees' medicine cabinets," Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the safety council, said in a news release. "Even when they are taken as prescribed, prescription drugs and opioids can impair workers and create hazards on the job. We hope these findings prompt employers to take the lead on this emerging issue so that workplaces can be as safe as possible.”

But more than three-quarters of employers offer no training to workers on opioid abuse and less than 20 percent of employers said they felt extremely prepared to deal with prescription drug use in the workplace. Even fewer felt their employees could spot signs of misuse.

Of the workplaces that require drug testing for all employees, nearly half don’t test for synthetic opioids, like oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl. The survey found that nearly all workplace employment policies lack at least one major element of an effective drug-free workplace policy.

In the U.S., more than 60 percent of overdose deaths involve opioids, and nearly 100 Americans die every day from opioid or heroin use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This death rate has quadrupled since 1999.

Jefferson County Public Health began a syringe access program in 2016 to lessen the impact of the opioid epidemic on the citizens of Jefferson County most at risk. The program, called Points West, allows people who inject drugs to exchange used needles for new ones. Program participants can also access new injection equipment; receive education and counseling on quitting and rehabilitation; testing for diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C; and overdose prevention education and medication.

The Lakewood Police Department was honored as a 2016 Public Health Champion for their work in partnership with Points West.

No comments:

Post a Comment