Workers under employers’ watch for opioid abuse

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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One in four employers check their workers' prescriptions for possible abuse of painkillers and other drugs.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

More than a quarter of employers have examined the prescription drug claims of its employees to identify possible opioid abuse, and another 25 percent are considering such measures, according new survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

A third of employers report that prescription drug addiction is at least somewhat prevalent among their workforce, and the majority — 67 percent — believe that substance abuse challenges are greater now than five years ago, according to the survey.

As a result, many employers are now providing support for workers struggling with substance abuse through employee assistance programs and wellness programs that include a substance abuse component.

Of organizations providing substance abuse treatment benefits, 89 percent cover outpatient in-person treatment sessions, and 85 percent include inpatient hospital or clinic treatment. Other commonly provided options include prescription drug therapies (67 percent), inpatient residential treatment centers (67 percent), outpatient telemedicine treatment services (55 percent) and referrals to community services (41 percent).

“Substance abuse is costly for employers,” said Julie Stich, a spokeswoman for the International Foundation. “Reduced productivity, increased absenteeism and disability claims, and increased prescription drug and medical expenses add up to have a significant impact on an employer’s bottom line. Taking measures to prevent and treat substance abuse is beneficial to an organization and possibly life-saving for employees and their families.”

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