“A national survey on drug use and health conducted in 2015 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that 75% of adults ages 18 to 64 with substance misuse disorders are in the workforce.”
In case you’re not familiar with them, opioids are a group of drugs that include oxycodone and morphine prescribed to relieve pain but can affect safety, health and productivity. Opioids also include heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. They are highly addictive drugs that can result in side effects such as confusion, drowsiness and nausea.
Companies have been experiencing the effects of opioid usage, which range from absenteeism to decreased productivity and even safety incidents.
One Solution: Establish a Drug-Free Workplace.
A drug-free workplace means establishing a program designed to discourage drug and alcohol substance use disorders and encourage their treatment. The goal should be to educate your employees on how these substances can affect their health, their home, their career and the safety of both themselves and their co-workers.
As a business, you must ensure the safety of your employees and the profitability of your company. A drug-free workplace program is a proactive step in addressing negative impacts to the company, such as workplace accidents, loss of productivity and even hostile work environments.
You’ll want to customize your program to your workplace, employees and worksites, but, in general, it should include clear, written policies along with employee drug and alcohol education, supervisor training and random drug testing all of which holds everyone to the same standards.
Elements you may want to include in developing your program and training:
- Communicate at new-hire orientation, safety meetings and other relevant training opportunities
- Train supervisors to recognize impaired workers and impacts to safety
- Educate everyone about substance misuse, symptoms of drug misuses and abuse, their effects on performance and methods of prevention
- Establish a random drug testing protocol that includes common opioids
- Educate employees on how they can get help for themselves and/or their family
- Ensure employee assistance (or health and wellness) programs include treatment plans to help employees return to work
- Ensure there is a continual review of your policy and program
- Include consequences for those that do not comply.
Train and prepare your workforce
Prepare your workforce in advance for a drug-free policy that includes opioids. Everyone in the company has a role in ensuring the success of this program, from front line employees to supervisors to senior management.
Nearly 21 million Americans are living with substance use disorder, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
Three-quarters of those struggling with addiction to alcohol, pain medication, marijuana and other substances are employed. Workers with substance use disorders miss nearly 50% more work days than their peers – up to six weeks annually – and absenteeism leads to losses in productivity
Resources for You
• US Dept of Health and Human Services: Opioids
• Opioids in the workplace: What employers need to know
• Drug =Free Workplace Policy Sample
• HRSA Opioid Crisis
• NSC Substance Use and the Workplace video