EATON — The Preble County Chamber of Commerce presented a “Dose of Reality” during its monthly Breakfast Briefing series.
On hand to provide some local insight and support for employers was Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board Executive Director, Amy Raynes.
The event was held Tuesday, June 19.
According to information provided by Preble County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Leslie Collins, Ohio’s employers are asking what they should do about the opioid problem in their own workplaces. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce convened a task force to explore the options. One recommendation coming out of the task force was for employers to be armed with a toolkit of resources to be better prepared to prevent and respond to the problem. With the help and expertise of Working Partners®, and financial support from Anthem, the Ohio Chamber developed the Opioid Toolkit containing several resources free of charge to any company doing business in Ohio.
A Dose of Reality is an initiative to inform, educate and arm employers and employees to stop the losses resulting from prescription drug abuse.
During the session, employers who attended watched two of the informational modules available in the toolkit. A Dose of Reality contains a five-module course giving an overview of the legal and operational issues an employer must consider when dealing with an employee’s use of opioids and other substances.
The toolkit is accessible online at www.ohiochamber.com/opioid-toolkit.
Raynes encouraged employers to view the course and share the employee course with their workforce.
“I highly recommend that, if you haven’t already done it, and if you don’t already have a really tight program in place, that you get one,” Raynes said. “It’s going to be really vital to businesses right now.”
Raynes said she is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.
“I’m not a fan of the legalization of marijuana and our board does not support that decision in any way. There’s just not enough research on the drug. We already know it’s a gateway drug to other drugs,” she said. “We just don’t see that it’s going be a healthy thing for our community or our state. We already see what’s happening in Colorado and the outcomes from that state have not been positive.”
One in five people in the United States abuse prescription medications, many of whom make-up the nation’s workforce, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Raynes noted the county is currently dealing more with a meth problem than opiates.
“In the state of Ohio, Preble County is number one in meth use. We’re number one, not in a way we want to be,” she said.
She noted alcohol is the main drug of use and causing the most problems for businesses.
“Most people really overlook alcohol abuse,” she said. “There are signs that people are abusing alcohol. But we really tend to overlook that because it’s a socially acceptable drug. But it’s a very dangerous one and it’s causing a lot of workers comp claims.”
The government and business community are increasingly recognizing the negative consequences of substance abuse on the U.S. economy and the nation’s workforce. Prescription drug abuse alone leads to $4.2 billion a year in lost workplace productivity in the U.S., and according to the ONDCP:
• In 2009, the majority (67 percent) of current drug users aged 18 or older were employed, either full‐time (48 percent ) or part‐time (19 percent ), with the unemployed accounting for 13 percent and the remaining 21percent not in the labor force.
• Among full‐time workers aged 18 or older, nearly one in 12 (8 percent ) reported past‐month (current) use of an illicit drug in 2009. Unemployed workers were twice as likely – one in six (17 percent ) – to report current drug use in 2009.
• From 2002 to 2004, full‐time workers aged 18‐64 who reported current illicit drug use were more than twice as likely as those reporting no current illicit drug use to report they had worked for three or more employers in the past year (12.3 percent versus 5.1 percent ).
• In the same period, full‐time workers who were current drug users were more likely to report missing two or more workdays in the past month due to illness or injury, when compared with workers who were not current users (16.4 percent vs. 11.0 percent ).
• Full‐time workers who were current drug users also were about twice as likely as non‐users to skip one or more days of work in the past month (16.3 percent vs. 8.2 percent ).