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Prescription drug abuse in the workplace on the rise

October 25, 2010
by Press Release
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West Palm Beach, FL — Accidents do happen, but many times the incident could have been prevented when it is a result of prescription drug abuse.

According to the American Council for Drug Education, more than 70 percent of substance abusers hold a job, which increases their risk of work related injury to them or others. While this statistic includes abuse of both legal and illegal drugs, Quest Diagnostics, a diagnostic testing company, reported the use of prescription opiates by American workers and job applicants has increased by 40 percent since 2005.

The Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (FSIPP), the group behind The Pain Truth, a statewide educational campaign dedicated to fighting prescription drug abuse; wants to educate employers and employees on ways to help reduce the risk of accidents precipitated by prescription addiction.

FSIPP pain physicians, located throughout the state, have drawn up some recommendations to help employers and employees raise awareness of prescription drug abuse in the workplace.

For employers:

-- Provide materials that will educate employees on the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse.
-- Be sure to have clearly stated rules in place outlining the disciplinary actions should prescription drug abuse be present in the workplace.
-- Train managers, human resource personnel, and others to identify and handle substance abusers.
-- Look for abuse among the workforce; some signs of abuse include increased absences, decreased productivity and involvement in accidents both on and off the job.

For employees:

-- Take responsibility—whether legal or otherwise, prescription pills do have side effects so be sure to be aware of the implications for both employee and employers if accidents do occur.
-- If affected by prescription drug addiction, take advantage of the programs and information available.

"Being under the influence of prescription drugs can hinder an individual's mindset especially when operating heavy machinery," said Deborah Tracy, MD, president of FSIPP. "Safety and precaution are important first steps to take in order to start turning the tide on this current downward trend."