The Opioid Epidemic Keeps Prime Candidates Out of the Workforce
In Mid February 2018 a subcommittee for Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions examined the opioid crisis and how it is impacting the current workforce in America.
During the discussion, Tim Walberg brings up the idea that each overdose victim is a person with a lost potential. He wants policy makers to realize that this epidemic and the devastating statistics it brings are effecting so many parts of society that it is important that more is done to combat this problem.
Many employers are seeing issues of drug-use when it comes time to drug test employees for pre-employment screening. As company owners and management teams, many have seen first hand how the opioid epidemic has swept the nation and they see it every day from their employees.
A great way that companies are battling back against the drug crisis is by offering substance abuse services in their EAP programs. According to the National Safety Council, In the US about 70% of companies have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) as a part of their human resources services; these programs provide options for drug or alcohol abuse treatment. In fortune 500 companies the percentage of EAPs increase to 90%. Programs like this are perfect for employers who are having issues with their employees abusing alcohol or drugs. Instead of having to fire a worker, the employee can seek treatment in order to return to work free of alcohol or drug influence.
The CDC took opioid overdose statistics from 1999-2015 and concluded that the age of most overdose deaths are 25-39, which also happens to be prime age of those in the current workforce. The people dying are directly affecting today’s economy significantly. For the men who are not in the labor force, almost half of them are taking prescription pain medications daily. Those numbers are largely affecting today’s society and economy- men who should be out working for a living and contributing back into society are instead addicted to prescription pain medications and in that case useless as a laborer.
The economical hit from the opioid epidemic is divided between the healthcare industry that pays for the treatment, the workforce who has to deal with the loss of employees and earnings, and we also can’t forget the expenses from the criminal justice system. The entire economy is hurting from the drug problem so there must be more done in order to fight back against this expensive and deadly battle.
Prevention, education and treatment, these are the three main areas that we can help the society as a whole. The Federal Government has taken funding and delegated it to certain government ran programs that co-inside with the three above mentioned areas. There is more substance abuse treatment program funding for those without insurance, and more funding to programs that are proven more successful such as a Medication Assisted Treatment facility. These are only the first steps, combating this problem that has gone on for over eight years will not happen overnight. Education and prevention are still two large areas we see a huge need.