ITASCA, Ill.,— More than 70 percent of United States employers are feeling the direct impact of prescription drug misuse in their workplaces, according to a survey released today by the National Safety Council. The survey, the first of its kind in the nation, also found that although 71 percent of employers agree that prescription drug misuse is a disease that requires treatment, 65 percent feel it is a justifiable reason to fire an employee.
“Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees’ medicine cabinets,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “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.”
Drug poisonings, largely from opioid painkillers, now eclipse car crashes as the leading cause of preventable death among adults.iNearly half of Americans are personally impacted by prescription drug addiction, with 44 percent knowing someone who is addicted to a prescription pain reliever.ii Seventy-five percent of those struggling with a substance use disorder are in the workforceiii, revealing a hidden epidemic that many employers are struggling to address.
i According to Injury Facts 2016 ii According to a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, April 2016 iii According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA