Alarming statistics make the rising problem of prescription use notable. For example, in one Southeastern County in six months of this year, 51 people died of heroin overdose, 46 died of fentanyl overdose and 15 died from an overdose of prescription painkillers.
It’s important to remember that the problem of addiction rarely starts with heroin; it starts with the abuse of prescription drugs, something that can happen quickly in a short amount of time. For those who are already addicted to pills or may become addicted, it is critical that we remove the stigma surrounding treatment so that they will seek help before the high cost and difficulty of illegally obtaining prescription drugs drives them to the heroin market. Heroin is widely available and too many of our young people are becoming addicted. We also must monitor the newest street drugs that are available. For example, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that made headlines with the death of the entertainer Prince. It can be 50 times more potent than heroin and is often used to stretch batches of heroin, making the use of readily available heroin even more risky.
What can we do? If you are an employer, you should be aware of the impact that opioid abuse can have on your workforce, the need for education and the availability of resources for treatment among your workers. A drug-free workplace policy along with an EAP is the first step. The HHS website, http://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/, provides information on prescription drugs and heroin. It also offers information that can be shared to build awareness and remove the stigma from addiction so that people will seek early treatment.
If you have questions regarding how to address substance abuse in your workforce, please contact BHS at 800-245-1150. We can speak with you about your company’s benefits and discuss your available options.
Source: AL.com; Guest Voice, September 18, 2016