Being based in Indiana ourselves, it is with great sadness to report that around 80 percent of Indiana employers have experienced the terrible effects of employee prescription drug abuse in the work place. These experiences range from pill selling to worker overdoses to stunted job performance.
While there is a staggering number of reported incidences, only a small fraction of the employers offer training around drug use at the workplace while an even smaller number actively screen for opioid painkillers in employee drug screens.
The study, conducted by the National Safety Council, took a poll of 200 Indiana employers and gathered information regarding the employers’ perceptions of prescription drug abuse, and their company’s policies regarding prescription drug abuse.
Other key findings from the survey include:
- 64% believe that prescription drug abuse is a bigger problem than illegal drugs
- Only half of the companies cover employee use of drugs at work in their written policies
- More than 60% of employers are not confident that employees and supervisors can spot warning signs of prescription medication abuse
- 71% of companies do not offer training on prescription drugs for supervisors or employees
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, creator and co-chairman of the state’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, has encouraged employers to take prescription drug abuse in the workplace more seriously.
“I challenge all Hoosier businesses to recognize the risks and start this conversation in their workplaces to elevate the issue, deter abuse and create avenues for people to seek help before it’s too late,” said Zoeller.
By encouraging employers to take action, we can work to help curb the rising rates of prescription drug abuse and overdose, but it does require action. Employers can take several preemptive steps to ensure the safety of their employees.
These would include formal training on prescription drug abuse, as well as screening for opioids and other commonly abused prescribed drugs. Companies can also establish policies on their employee assistance programs for formerly or currently addicted employees.
Indiana is the first state in which the NSC has conducted a poll. While it may be the first, it is an awakening for the United States to become aware of the dangers of drug abuse, much like a drug or executive intervention.