The Opioid Epidemic Is Depleting the Nation’s Workforce

While the opioid epidemic has impacted every community throughout the United States, its effects have not been confined to homes and neighborhoods.

The crisis also has had devastating consequences on the country’s workplaces, according to an editorial written by Christopher J. Swift, chairman and CEO of the insurance company The Hartford.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that the opioid crisis is partly responsible for the labor force participation rate decreasing by 4 percentage points since 2000. As Swift cites, an online survey in 2016 found that about half of men who were out of the workforce had taken pain medication the day before being surveyed. About two-thirds of this group had taken prescription pain medication.

These statistics show that employers cannot ignore opioid misuse and addiction. These issues can have a negative effect on businesses’ bottom lines, but more critically, they can lead to unsafe working conditions.

Employers can be proactive in maintaining safe working environments establishing and maintaining a drug-free workplace policy. The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey offers a free initiative, Drugs Don’t Work in NJ, which provides employers and businesses all the tools necessary to establish and maintain workplace policies and procedures.

This epidemic has impacted every part of society. It will take a unified effort — at home, at work and at school — to help solve it.

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