What are the Costs of Employee Opioid Abuse?

Opioid abuse has spread its tentacles to all corners of the U.S., causing a national epidemic. Not only does it adversely impact the lives of users, it takes a toll on their employers as well. Employee opioid abuse is resulting in some major costs for employers all across the nation.


The Extent of the Crisis

Bloomberg BNA offers data that paints a picture of the situation employers are up against:

  • 4.3 million people are using prescription painkillers non-medically.
  • Drug overdose is the leading cause of “injury death” in the U.S.
  • Widespread opioid abuse costs employers approximately $12 billion annually.
  • Roughly 10 to 12 percent of American workers are under the influence of drugs at work.


These statistics show just how serious employee opioid abuse has become. In theory, at least one out of every 10 employees is abusing opioids, which means it’s often a problem even for small companies. Although awareness is growing, this is and will continue to remain a major issue for employers for some time to come.


Factors Contributing to These Costs

Which specific factors are contributing to these costs? Here are four key factors:

  1. Increased tardiness and absenteeism – Opioid addicts are far more likely to show up late or skip work altogether. In turn, this can hurt your company’s productivity and profitability.
  2. Increased workers’ comp claims – Employees who are under the influence of opioids are much more susceptible to injuring themselves or others while on the job. Opioids can diminish their cognitive functioning and inhibit their decision making, which can be serious or even fatal in safety-sensitive positions. NPR reports, “Workers’ comp claims accounted for 75 percent or more of all claims in 15 states.”
  3. Addiction treatment costs – If employers choose to pay for treatment, the costs can add up in a hurry.
  4. Employee turnover – Often there’s no choice but to terminate an employee whose work performance is consistently impaired by opioid use. In other cases, the symptoms associated with the addiction (e.g. depression) will influence workers to quit on their own.


How Much Can it Cost Your Company?

There are a few different variables that determine what the cost can be including your location, industry and number of employees. Perhaps the most effective way to gauge the cost is to use this tool from the National Safety Council.

Enter in a few pieces of information and provide your email, and you will have access to a report. This should give you a pretty good idea of what the financial implications would be if it hits your business.

Employee opioid abuse is devastating the nation, and no company is immune. Even if you haven’t experienced any issues yet, you never know when one could flare up. Therefore, it’s a problem that you should address head on and be prepared for. You can learn more about finding a solution in this post.


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