Small Businesses Concerned With Substance Use Among Employees
Two trends in substance use are affecting the bottom line among small businesses. One is a significant increase in the abuse of prescription painkillers. The other is the increased use of marijuana as a result of increased deregulation.
According to a survey conducted by Employers Holdings Inc., one out of 10 small businesses report having employees show up to work while under the influence of at least one controlled substance, with lost productivity and potential insurance costs affecting the bottom line of the business.
Many companies require that employees provide a clean urine or blood sample both at hiring and at the discretion of the employer for random testing. However, in some cases, the employee may arrive at work visibly affected by a substance.
Prescription Drug Use
Opioid misuse has been on the rise. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more overdose deaths are now recorded for prescription opioids than for heroin or cocaine.
Prescription drug abuse often begins with a legitimate pain problem, often resulting from a serious injury or chronic disease. The patient may not receive adequate warnings, or they may not exercise the necessary caution in avoiding addiction to the drug.
In other cases unlocked medicine cabinets provide an opportunity for forgotten pills to be pilfered. Opioids can produce the same high as heroin, and they are a popular choice for experimentation. Many users mistakenly believe that because the drugs are obtained through a prescription from a doctor they aren’t as dangerous as street drugs.
Instead, experts say, the use of opioids can be just as dangerous as street drugs. Common reactions include a racing pulse or stroke. In some cases users may combine the drugs with other pills to make a unique cocktail and significantly increase the likelihood that they will experience negative side effects.
One potential danger of using opioids is that when a user runs out of opportunities to obtain prescription opioids from the medicine cabinets of friends and relatives the addiction may be fully developed. Buying pills on the street can be very expensive, costing $80 to $100 per pill. The remedy, in too many cases, is to start using heroin. Heroin is available and cheap, compared to prescription painkillers.
Marijuana Use Increasing
The increasing legalization of marijuana is also becoming a challenge for employers. Many don’t believe that their employees are able to work safely while under the influence, and are struggling to adequately prevent the substance from impacting their business, the safety of their employees and those they interact with on any given day.
With states beginning to allow the possession and use of marijuana, the impact is being felt by small businesses. In Colorado, where marijuana sales are booming, employers are scrambling to compensate for the impact the drug can have on their employees and their businesses.
More than half of employers surveyed even mentioned over-the-counter medications as a particular danger to employees and those around them. Three-quarters of the employers agreed that marijuana, prescription painkillers, alcohol and illicit narcotics presented a danger to their employees.
The survey was conducted by International Communications Research, who interviewed 502 small businesses that were nationally representative of small businesses that have fewer than 100 employees.
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