There is hardly a person that the current opioid crisis does not affect. Whether you personally know someone who suffers from opioid addiction, or you know a friend of a friend – This is a very real and growing problem that continues to touch the lives of too many people.
In this blog, we’re going to address some of the main factors of the opioid crisis, with the help from our friends at Quest Diagnostics:
How Does it Start?
Yes, opioid addiction can begin by just hanging out with the wrong crowd, but more often than not, it begins at a doctor’s office. Many prescriptions for painkillers are careless or overprescribed, which can frequently leads to the misuse of the prescription. Quest shares how misuse can work:
“Misuse occurs when a prescribed drug is taken in a way that is not consistent with a physician’s orders. For many, deviating from a doctor’s instructions may lead to dependence on painkillers and, in the worst case scenario, seeking out to find street drugs like heroin or fentanyl when the refills run out.”
The National Safety Council (NSC) has identified that misuse of prescription drugs affects 7/10 US employers – and 41% of employers do not drug test for synthetic opioids. Employees who are opioid users miss 2x as many workdays, with an average of 29 days missed/year. This is compared to the average of 14 days missed/year by those who suffer from alcohol abuse.
52% of Americans – more than half – who were prescribed painkillers identified as having misused their prescriptions. Opioids are responsible for shortening the lifespan of Americans by 2.5 months; from 2011 – 2015 alone, positivity rates for heroine increased by 146% in the US workforce.
Help and Awareness
Sadly, drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in Americans under the age of 50. Even worse, researchers have potentially even underestimated the number of deaths just this year due to drug overdose. As the opioid crisis becomes an epidemic, it is important to know where to turn for help, or where to direct someone to help. There are many organizations and rehabilitation facilities that help addicts take the steps towards recovery. For immediate help, there are several various hotlines to call. Employers can continue to do their part by requiring drug tests that include testing for synthetic opioids for both new hires and current employees.