Not only are individuals, families, and communities experiencing challenges related to the opioid crisis, but workplaces are as well. In fact, nearly 70% of workplaces in American are experiencing the impact of the crisis. The stress, co-morbidities, and extenuating difficult circumstances that accompany these individual and community-wide challenges manifest themselves directly through work in multiple ways including safety, absenteeism, productivity, retention, and healthcare spend. General opioid use, tolerance, and dependence also carry workplace risks. They are not strictly associated with workers who have OUD
As individuals’ first exposure to opioids is often related to relieving pain, the workplace impact must also be considered. Whether an employees’ duties involve sitting at a desk or repetitive movements for hours per day, pain is a common experience among today’s workforce. Experiencing pain can negatively affect multiple aspects of an individual’s life, including their psychological health, relationships, sleep, physical activity, self-esteem, and work.
Supporting employees and their families who are in treatment and recovery from SUD or OUD has a positive impact on the lives of employees and the employer.Employees in recovery have lower healthcare costs, miss less work, and are less likely to leave their employer. These workers average 10% fewer missed
work days than the general workforce and have 8% less turnover. With an average cost per hire of over $4,000, companies can benefit from making direct efforts to retain employees who are facing substance use challenges. In addition to improvement in their business’s bottom line and workplace performance, employers should consider the social and communal benefits of adopting a transparent and empathetic approach to SUD and OUD.
Opioid use can be associated with increased injury in the workplace. Employees using opioids to treat their pain may present safety liabilities when not adequately accommodated.
People struggling with opioid addiction miss nearly 50% more work than the general workforce. Acute and chronic pain have similar effects.
Substance misuse and related disorders are estimated to cost more than $400 billion in workplace productivity in the United States. The use of prescription opioids, whether problematic or non-problematic, is associated with a loss in labor capacity.
36% of people with SUD and 42% of people with OUD related to pain medication worked for more than one employer in the past year, compared to 25% of the general workforce. Pain can also severely impact retention, with employees experiencing chronic pain eventually utilizing short- or long-term disability or permanently exiting the workforce.
- HEALTHCARE SPEND
Healthcare costs for employees who misuse prescription drugs are three times higher than those for an average employee. Unaddressed acute and chronic pain can also significantly impact an employer’s healthcare spending.