Newspaper article

The Importance of Educating Everyone in the Workplace about Opioid Risks

Newspaper article

The Importance of Educating Everyone in the Workplace about Opioid Risks

Article excerpt

No community is immune to the opioid epidemic. That is why independent businesses in St. Paul are working together and ramping up efforts to combat the dangers associated with misusing and abusing prescription pain medicines.

Recently, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a training session, sponsored by Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA), to help human resources and business professionals implement initiatives to help prevent future opioid misuse in the workplace.

Abuse of prescription opioids can have grave repercussions for businesses and lead to greater workplace absenteeism, lower productivity and an increase in on-the-job accidents and insurance costs. Some employees who develop an opioid use disorder (OUD) leave the workforce altogether, which means local companies sometimes struggle to attract and retain talented employees they need to help their business succeed.

Prevention strategies

Attendees at our training session had a good understanding of this public health crisis, but were looking for effective strategies to help prevent future instances of prescription opioid abuse and misuse. A panel of experts discussed a range of proactive options, which included strengthening drug-free workplace policies, enhancing employee education and assistance programs, and fostering an open communications channel to reduce stigmatization and encourage employees who may be suffering from OUD to reach out. We also discussed how policies and procedures can support prevention efforts.

A core takeaway from our discussion was the essential role of enterprise-wide education, starting from the top. Managers need to be trained to recognize and respond to substance abuse issues in uniform, cost-effective and business-sensitive ways. When managers observe an employee who is not showing up for work, has trouble making deadlines and appointments, or is exhibiting inattention, poor judgment, exhaustion, or has difficulty concentrating and remembering – it is important to know that these could be warning signs that an OUD may be an issue and they need to know how to properly and legally intervene. …

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