- Almost half of employers (42%) are unsure of the prevalence of prescription drug addiction and substance abuse within their organizations, according to a report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
- Employers may gain insight as to the extent of opioid abuse in their workplaces by conducting claims analyses, the report said. Only 30% of respondents said they have done so. For those who had done so, 3% reported a significant increase in opioid-related claims from the year before and 8% reported such a change over the past five years.
- More than half of businesses, 51%, said they are using a prescription drug monitoring program or a pharmacy benefit manager to reduce the growing number of claims. A little less than one-third (26%) are limiting the amount of pain pills given out to post-surgery patients and the same amount are offering alternative pain management treatments. These initiatives may face barriers, however; employers said that workers fear admitting a problem, fear a lack of confidentiality and do not acknowledge or are not ready to address their problems.
The opioid crisis is devastating lives, communities and businesses across the U.S.; the epidemic has cost the Massachusetts economy, for example, more than $9.7 billion. And while the foundation's study revealed businesses may not even know how much their companies are affected by the crisis, research has shown HR departments do not feel equipped to help colleagues addicted to opioids. Nearly two-thirds of HR professionals admitted as much in a recent study, and 65% said the epidemic has had some financial impact on their companies.
More than a year has passed since the Trump Administration declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. One Indiana company dealing with a talent shortage is coping by sending applicants who fail a drug test to rehab on the house. Such a drastic, and potentially expensive, solution won't be possible for all employers, but there are other options. The National Business Group on Health has urged employers to communicate with their pharmacy benefit managers to ensure they include specific strategies and rules that can better protect U.S. workplaces from the opioid crisis.