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1 800 HURT 511

Opioid Use at Work


Studies have shown that prolonged usage and high doses of opioids can lead to addiction and cause other problems such as decreased ability to work, increase in disability for which the opioid was prescribed, and may even cause death in certain cases. There is very little evidence that highlights the benefits of these drugs, proving that they are more detrimental to the health of workers than it was believed.

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) – an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, MA – conducted a study that highlighted the prevalence of opioid prescription drug use for injured workers. Prescribing opioid drugs was prevalent in nonsurgical claims leading to about seven days of lost time. 60 to 85 percent of the workers receiving pain medications for injuries received opioids in most states. Out of the 25 states studied New York showed the highest number of injured workers receiving opioids.

The study showes a noticeable reduction in the amount of opioid prescription medication given to injured workers. “Interstate Variations in Use of Opioids, 3rd Edition”, outlined interstate variations, ongoing trends, and the changes in those trends with respect to the reforms in prescription patterns and usage of opioid prescription medication and pain relieving medication in about 25 states.

The study used the data of 337,000 non-surgical workers’ compensation claims and about 1.9 million medical prescriptions that were associated with the claims from 25 states, spanning over two 24-months periods from about March 2010 to March 2012 and from March 2012 to March 2014. The data shows a significant reduction in a majority of the states.

This decrease comes as a result of state reforms directed at monitoring opioid prescription drug abuse and prescription drug monitoring programs. These reforms included implementation of drug formularies and treatment guidelines that were laid down by the State. The percentage of long-term opioid use for injuries among workers was lower than the recommended amount by treatment guidelines. At the same time, the frequency of drug tests was quite high among the top five percent of workers receiving opioids for injuries.

While it may be a matter of choice and personal freedom in one’s personal life, the use of drugs and alcohol at work is a problem for employers. Whether it’s reduced productivity or concerns about workplace safety, substance abuse can pose a variety of challenges for your business. But what exactly should you do when you suspect substance abuse in the workplace? Here’s a primer to help get you started.

Since the opioid epidemic set in, some estimates show that over 27 million people use illicit drugs or misuse prescription drugs and almost 67 million people are considered binge drinkers. This is also having a significant impact on the workplace, as nearly 70% of illicit drug users and nearly 80% of binge drinkers are employed in either full- or part-time positions. The fact is that substance abuse is much more prevalent in the workplace.

According to some national surveys, substance abuse affects many sectors of our economy, ranking highest in the construction and mining industries, as well as the accommodations and food services industries. People with safety-sensitive jobs, such as truck drivers and heavy-machinery operators, are legally subject to drug tests. However, aside from those types of positions, fewer companies are requiring drug tests, especially in a competitive job market. It’s almost a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — with serious repercussions.

Government studies say that substance abuse in the workplace costs businesses more than $100 billion a year. Alcoholism alone is responsible for about 500 million lost workdays a year. To make a real difference, employers need programs to educate and rehabilitate abusers. It’s worth the investment. “At a minimum, businesses should maintain a resource file from which employees can access information about community-based resources, treatment programs and helplines,” says Elena Carr, a former drug policy coordinator at the US Department of Labor.

Substance abuse is a fact of work that requires clear policies, but employers can also help address the problem with referrals and programs. When it comes to detecting workplace substance abuse issues, managers are on the frontline and, with the right tools and training, can be an effective part of the solution. Tackle drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace with an effective recruitment strategy

Substance abuse in the workplace is a national problem, but employers can be a part of the solution. Having a strong hiring process is one way to help rid your workplace of drug and alcohol abuse. Get expert information on the best ways to recruit, hire and maintain best employees by signing up for Monster Hiring Solutions today.

For more information and enhance your company’s fall protection program this spring and summer contact HURT-511 and our personal injury lawyers help injured workers recover the benefits to which they are entitled by law. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, call us toll-free at 800-4878-511 or complete our online form.

Our firm handles accident and injury claims throughout all five boroughs of New York. HURT-511 operates in all boroughs of New York including all Bronx neighborhoods, namely: Bedford Park, Belmont, Fordham, Highbridge, Hunts Point, Jerome Park, Kingsbridge, Morris Park, Morrisania, Mott Haven, Parkchester, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, Throgs Neck, University Heights and Woodlawn.

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