Em­ploy­ers can help fight drug prob­lem

The Columbus Dispatch - - Opinion/ Forum - DEE MA­SON Dee Ma­son is a na­tion­ally rec­og­nized ex­pert in drugfree-work­place is­sues and founder and CEO of Work­ing Part­ners®, an ac­knowl­edged in­dus­try leader in cre­at­ing drug-free-work­place pro­grams for com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses.

In a re­cent edi­to­rial, The Dis­patch rightly called at­ten­tion to the es­ca­lat­ing prob­lem the opi­oid epi­demic is caus­ing for Ohio em­ploy­ers.

In fact, ac­cord­ing to Ohio Depart­ment of Health, 3,000 Ohioans of em­ploy­ment age were lost in 2017 alone due to opi­oid-re­lated fa­tal­i­ties. Even prior to the epi­demic, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion con­ser­va­tively note that for ev­ery one death, 10 peo­ple are ad­mit­ted for treat­ment, 32 vis­ited the emer­gency room, 130 are drug-de­pen­dent and 825 are non­med­i­cal users of pre­scrip­tion drugs.

But the jeop­ardy to our work­force is not just de­pen­dence on opioids (which in­clude pre­scrip­tion drugs, heroin and fen­tanyl), ac­cord­ing to Quest Di­ag­nos­tics, the largest work­place-test­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion. The rates of pos­i­tive tests for cocaine and am­phet­a­mines are es­ca­lat­ing too and, as the Dis­patch points out, we’re just now ready­ing ac­cess to le­gal­ized med­i­cal mar­i­juana in Ohio.

Each of the em­ployed in­di­vid­u­als that are mis­us­ing pre­scrip­tion and other drugs is cost­ing an Ohio em­ployer be­tween $7,000 and $25,000. That fig­ure is stag­ger­ing.

Ohio em­ploy­ers must stop bury­ing their heads in the sand. Em­ploy­ers must ex­pand ef­forts to pro­tect them­selves, and the sin­gle an­ti­dote for harm­ful use of sub­stances af­fect­ing work­places is a com­pre­hen­sive drug-free-work­place pro­gram. To be com­pre­hen­sive, the pro­gram must fo­cus on pre­vent­ing the harm­ful use in the first place and pro­tect­ing the work­place with legally sound in­ter­ven­tion mea­sures, in­clud­ing a sec­ond-chance pol­icy for the first time an em­ployee tests pos­i­tive for sub­stance use.

When you con­sider that four out of five new heroin users started by mis­us­ing pre­scrip­tion painkillers and that chil­dren of par­ents who talk to them about drugs are up to 50 per­cent less likely to use, there’s no doubt that the work­place is ripe for ed­u­ca­tion and pre­ven­tion ef­forts. These should in­clude pro­vid­ing the in­for­ma­tion and tools em­ploy­ees need to be aware and to act on these sta­tis­tics.

A re­cent sur­vey of more than 3,200 Ohio em­ploy­ers made clear that em­ploy­ers can do more. We found that 1 in 3 em­ploy­ers polled had none of the el­e­ments of a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gram in place to pro­tect their busi­nesses. These el­e­ments in­clude: a writ­ten pol­icy with the com­pany’s re­quire­ments for clear-minded em­ployee per­for­mance and nam­ing where to turn for as­sis­tance; ed­u­cat­ing em­ploy­ees about the drugs, rules and the proper use and dis­posal of such sub­stances; train­ing su­per­vi­sors with the tools to in­ter­vene be­fore the harm­ful use by an em­ployee costs lives and dol­lars; test­ing to know what is ac­tu­ally be­ing mis­used, and hav­ing a plan for as­sist­ing em­ploy­ees that in­cludes a sec­ond chance.

In my role, I have been asked time and again, “Does giv­ing an em­ployee a sec­ond chance re­ally work for the em­ployer?” And my an­swer to that ques­tion is al­ways yes. A sec­ond-chance pol­icy can be a wise and fi­nan­cially sound busi­ness de­ci­sion. And, be­yond be­ing the com­pas­sion­ate thing to do for your em­ploy­ees, it also has a built-in safe­guard for the em­ployer. If the em­ployee doesn’t fol­low through with the as­sess­ment and rec­om­men­da­tions, they have self-elected to leave the com­pany.

Ad­di­tion­ally, it makes good fi­nan­cial sense: The cost of re­plac­ing an em­ployee ranges from 25 to 200 per­cent of the an­nual salary — and that doesn’t in­clude the losses in com­pany knowl­edge, con­ti­nu­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity. Fi­nally, a lit­tle-known fact about em­ployee ab­sen­teeism: An em­ployee in re­cov­ery from a sub­stance-use dis­or­der ac­tu­ally misses less work than the gen­eral work­force — a cost sav­ings of more than $3,200 per year.

When you cou­ple the li­a­bil­ity pro­tec­tions, the fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits and the loy­alty of an em­ployee who has been sup­ported by the em­ployer to get healthy, the pos­i­tive im­pact of hav­ing a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy that pro­vides sec­ond chances for em­ploy­ees is im­mea­sur­able. And, in all hon­esty, with the stag­ger­ing es­ca­la­tion of drug ad­dic­tion in our state, it is es­sen­tial.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.