Integrated Absence Management: Preventing Opioid Deaths

DMEC Staff@Work

Preventing Opioid Deaths: An Opportunity to Integrate Health and Disability Management

Preventing Opioid DeathsBy Glenn Pransky, MD

Scientific Advisor
Lincoln Financial Group

Prescription opioid abuse has increased, with a surge in deaths from high-potency synthetic opioids, resulting in over 150 opioid-related deaths each day in the United States — nearly a four-fold increase over the last 15 years.1 Of 10.6 million Americans with opioid use disorder in 2016, over 62% were employed.2 The costs to employers in terms of absence, poor work quality and productivity, occupational injuries, healthcare costs, and other losses are considerable.3 Unfortunately, employed persons are only half as likely to receive treatment for substance abuse as unemployed persons.2

Guidelines are available on how to achieve a drug-free workplace, including workplace policies, drug screening, and employee education.4,5 Yet most employers feel unprepared to identify opioid use disorders in the workplace, and support treatment and recovery.6

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