More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the full extent of its deadliness only now becoming clear. Not only have millions died from the illness itself; but also — and perhaps more chillingly — thousands have died from opioid addictions that were exacerbated by the pandemic. According to new data from the CDC, drug overdoses reached a record high in 2020, with more than 80% of those coming from synthetic opioids. The impact of opioids doesn’t stop there, however. According to a study done by the NSC (National Safety Council), more than 75% of employers have been affected in some way by employee opioid abuse, and 38% experienced employee absenteeism and impaired work performance. As the opioid epidemic continues to bring destruction into individual’s lives and the workplace, it’s more important than ever for both employees and employers to understand the risks of opioid abuse and how to get addiction treatment.
How Do People Become Addicted to Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that include painkillers, some prescription medications, heroin, fentanyl, and other drugs that attach to the opioid receptors in the brain, producing a narcotic effect. Even when prescribed, these drugs can easily be a gateway to addiction. This poses a particular risk for workers in industries where injuries and chronic pain are common.
Jobs involving physical labor can lead to workplace injuries, which often result in a doctor prescribing painkillers. The outcome in such cases can be devastating: One 2015 study found that 21-29% of people who were prescribed opioids after a work-related injury ended up misusing them.
After someone has built a dependence on prescription medications, they often end up taking more than originally prescribed because of their built-up tolerance. When prescriptions run out, these individuals may seek a deadly substitute like heroin or fentanyl. As the opioid addiction consumes their life, it will destroy their relationships, work performance, and overall well-being — even if they were only hoping to help their pain. Once addiction is unleashed, a whole new cycle of pain begins.
Addiction is a disease, and it only gets worse until it is properly treated. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, give Acqua Recovery a call today. Our caring admissions team will guide you through the process of taking time off of work to seek addiction treatment.
How Do Opioids Affect the Workplace?
While the side effects of addiction are worst for those experiencing it, there is a ripple effect of damages. Those struggling with addiction often call in sick, causing absenteeism in the workplace and a decrease in productivity. Other side effects of opioids that could affect work performance include:
- Mood Swings
Unfortunately, addiction can’t be cured on its own. That’s why it’s imperative to take time off from work to get addiction treatment. Taking care of your issues now could save your job, your relationships, and your life. If you have an employee that’s struggling, you could do the same for them.
How to Find Addiction Treatment
Employers can play a vital role in their employees finding recovery by encouraging them to seek residential addiction treatment if needed. Many employees hesitate to take time off from work for addiction treatment because they’re worried about losing their jobs. As an employer, though, their recovery can only benefit you.
The truth is, when a person struggling with addiction seeks help for substance abuse, they get a renewed life. They’ll return to work thriving and their work performance may even surpass that of their coworkers. Plus, you’ll know you did the right thing in helping someone save their life. If you’re an employer, give us a call today to learn more about how you can work with Acqua Recovery to help your employees.
If you’re an employee struggling with substance abuse, know that the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) allows for most employees to take up to 12 weeks off of work to seek addiction treatment — without losing their job.
Where to start? You can contact your EAP (Employee Assistance Program) for referrals to residential addiction treatment programs, advice, or help talking to HR. In addition, if you're a union worker, talk to your rep. If you have health insurance through your union, it may even make residential addiction treatment more affordable.