The great majority of American workplaces are feeling the effects of the nation's ongoing opioid addiction epidemic and very few bosses know what to do about it.

A recently released survey by the National Safety Council that roughly 70 percent of employers say their organization has experienced negative impacts from prescription drug abuse among employees. Specifically:

  • 39 percent report absenteeism as the result of drug abuse

  • 39 percent report employees abusing prescription drugs at work

  • 29 percent have detected decreased or impaired job performance

  • 29 percent report employees who are dealing with a family member's addiction problems

  • 22 percent report complaints to HR and lower employee morale as a result of drug abuse

Yet, only 19 percent of the HR personnel surveyed say they feel prepared to deal with the issue.

In addition, while 71 percent believe abuse of prescription drugs should be treated as a disease, nearly as many (65 percent) say it is fair to fire somebody because of it. However, 70 percent also expressed an interest in allowing employees dealing with addiction to take a break from work to receive treatment and helping them transition back to their position after completing rehab.

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