When it comes to drug testing in the workplace, most people think of illegal drugs like marijuana or cocaine. But can employers also test for prescription drug use?
As per a report by the National Safety Council, workplace drug use costs employers an estimated $81 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, and increased healthcare costs. With such staggering statistics, it is no wonder that employers are concerned about drug use in the workplace. Moreover, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 10.3 million Americans aged 12 or older misused opioids in recent years, highlighting the scale of the prescription drug problem in the United States.
It is essential for employers to understand the rights and obligations in regard to drug testing their employees to prevent any potential harm caused by prescription drug abuse.
Opioids are considered the most common addictive prescribed drug abused by employees at work in the United States. Opioids are a type of painkiller medication that can be highly effective in managing chronic or acute pain, but they can also be highly addictive. Common opioid painkillers prescribed to employees at work may include medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates prescription drug testing for commercial drivers and safety-sensitive positions. Employers may require drivers to report the use of all prescription medications and drug testing may be conducted as part of a pre-employment or random testing program. Employers must follow specific procedures outlined by the FMCSA, and drivers with valid prescriptions may be exempt from penalties if they are following the prescribing healthcare provider's instructions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 49,860 opioid-involved overdose deaths in the United States, which accounted for almost 70% of all drug overdose deaths in recent years. The opioid epidemic has been a growing public health concern in the US, with the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths increasing significantly over the past two decades. The epidemic has been fueled by the overprescribing of opioid painkillers, the availability of illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl, and a lack of access to effective addiction treatment and recovery services.
Prescription drug usage can provide important medical benefits to individuals when used properly. However, they can also pose risks of addiction, abuse, and impairment, which can negatively impact an individual's work performance and safety. Employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe workplace and may require prescription drug testing as part of their drug-free workplace policies.
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