Partnership ‘Connects The Dots’ on Serious Drug Concerns
A first-of-its-kind survey from the Indiana Attorney General’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force and the National Safety Council suggests employer concerns about prescription drug abuse have surpassed those of illegal drug abuse in the work place. The council says abuse of prescriptions such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet affect 80 percent of businesses.
The office calls it a "hidden work place epidemic." Attorney General Greg Zoeller says Indiana was an ideal partner for the NSC because the task force, which is made up of statewide experts and convened, but not led, by the AG’s office, has very little "red tape." He also says the group is also made up of a widely-representative group of participants that are able to respond quickly to the council’s needs. "When they recognized the amount of prescription drugs being used, they wanted to try to connect the dots between this overuse of prescription drugs, particularly these opioid narcotics, and work place risks and problems associated with any of the high-risk parts of prescription drug issues." He says jobs that pose higher risks to the workers are of particular concern to the task force and the council.
The study took stock of 200 employers between May through August this year. It also found:
- 76 percent of employers say misusing prescription drugs is a justifiable reason for termination
- Only 53 percent of employers have a written policy on using prescription drugs at work, despite 80 percent reporting they have had experienced an issue
- 87 percent of employers conduct drug testing, but only 52 percent test for synthetic opioids
- More than 60 percent of employers are not confident that their staff can recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug misuse or abuse
- Less than 30 percent of employers offer training around workplace usage of prescription drugs
The council says it is recommending employers expand drug testing to include detection of opioid painkillers, train employees and supervisors how to spot signs of misuse and leverage Employee Assistance Programs to help employees return to work following treatment for addiction.
For more resources and information about prescription drug abuse in Indiana you can visit bitterpill.in.gov.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller says Indiana’s mix of industries makes these numbers troubling.