The opioid epidemic’s impact on the workplace

Addiction isn’t just preventing people from getting jobs: it’s also causing some to lose their jobs.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Every 12 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from an overdose. The opioid epidemic impacts everyone, and especially the workplace.

There’s no face to opioid addiction. It affects all of society, at home and in the workplace, yet the conversation has just only started to begin about how to combat it. Dr. Robert Roose is trying to shatter the stigma surrounding addiction, in order to save lives. “There is a theoretical risk that if somebody is exposed to an opiate even if it’s only once or twice or three times, they could develop a propensity to become dependent or addicted to that substance.” He’s worked with Governor Charlie Baker in creating the new law that limits how much doctors can prescribe for pain.

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Dr. Roose said Governor Baker’s new legislation focuses on treatment and prevention. He said those are key in creating new jobs. I spoke with one hiring agency that experiences the effects of the opioid epidemic.

“For many of our clients, we do have to do a pre-employment drug test and we find an increasing percentage of people are failing their drug tests, which prevents them from proceeding into employment,” said United Personnel Services President Tricia Canavan. She said she’s often startled to discover some of her promising candidates are struggling with addiction.

Others are saddened by how quickly heroin can destroy someone’s career and life. “Perfectly healthy individuals. Things seem to be fine. And then all of a sudden over time, we see some major disruption in the family and the workplace,” said Don Kozera, President of Human Resources Unlimited.

Addiction isn’t just preventing people from getting jobs: it’s also causing some to lose their jobs when they test positive for opiates in random workplace drug screenings.

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