Six Signs of Employee Opioid Abuse [Photo Gallery]

July 21, 2016
With sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly quadrupling from 1999 to 2014, there's no question that a company should have an employee assistance program in place.

Opioid dependency is on the rise in the United States, whether it is prescription medications or illegal substances such as heroin.  Companies and safety managers can combat substance abuse in the workplace with an Employee Assistance Program targeting both alcohol and drug dependency on the job.

Prescription opioid sales in the United States quadrupled from 1999 to 2014 and, since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids including pain relievers and heroin, according to the CDC.

Rather than firing an employee after drug or alcohol use is discovered, an EAP with alcohol and drug treatment pays for itself mainly with a reduction in healthcare costs, according to National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

According to the NCADD, the four main issues arising with drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace are:

  • Premature death/fatal accidents
  • Injuries/accident rates
  • Absenteeism/extra sick leave
  • Loss of production

A support program could, in turn, reduce turnover and improve employee morale and productivity. In addition, employers with EAPs report better health status among employees and a decrease in medical benefit use by these same groups, according to the NCADD.

The first step to helping an employee recover with an EAP is encouraging and supporting treatment. As always, an employer should consult with a lawyer on proper testing policies and procedures regarding drug abuse.

Here are six physical and behavioral symptoms that could indicate an employee is abusing opioids.  

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