Fentanyl and Opioid Addiction in the Workplace: Impact and Prevention

Definition of Fentanyl and Opioids

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid with potency 50 to 100 times that of morphine. Carfentanil, a member of the same class of drugs, can be 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

In the United States, the majority of opioid overdose cases in recent years has involved illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Opioids and fentanyl can both be prescribed to alleviate pain.

Prescription fentanyl can be given as an injectable solution, a transdermal patch or a lozenge.

The danger is that there are the illegal versions of fentanyl being sold in pills made to look like other prescription drugs and powder that is added to cocaine and other drugs, so people are taking fentanyl without knowing it.

What are Opioids?

  • morphine
  • heroin
  • methadone
  • fentanyl
  • oxycodone

These are all part of the opioid class of drugs. To alleviate pain, this class of drugs is frequently prescribed. Because opioids can induce euphoria (the sensation of being high), they are more likely to be misused.

There are three types of painkillers known as opiates:

  1. Natural opioids, also known as opiates, such as morphine and codeine, come from the opium poppy.
  2. Semi-synthetic opioids, like the prescription drugs hydrocodone and oxycodone and the illegal drug heroin.
  3. Synthetic opioids, like methadone, tramadol, and fentanyl, come from the opium poppy. 

 Problem: Impact of Opioid Addiction in the Workplace

Workplace drug use is much more common than you may think. There are many functioning addicts who can conceal their drug use.  Opioid addiction can reduce productivity as well as increase compensation claims and health care costs for employees.

Opioid use disorder may be a result of workplace injuries, with consequences affecting both an individual’s work life and home life. 

Drug use in the workplace causes:

  • huge loss in profits for the employer
  • decreased productivity
  • an increase in absenteeism
  • increased risk for accidents and injuries
  • high turnover rates
  • increase in theft
  • reduction in the quality of work produced
  • compromised safety protocols and regulations
  • negative effects on morale and trust between employers and employees

Stressful Work Environment

Some professions are more susceptible to addiction than others. These individuals typically work in high stress environments and may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Addiction is most prevalent among the following professions:

  • Health care professionals, including doctors and nurses
  • Law enforcement officers, linked to higher rates of PTSD
  • Farming, fishing and forestry professionals
  • Restaurant workers

Those who find themselves relying on drugs or alcohol should seek professional help immediately by contacting luxe Recovery.

Opioid Use Prevention Strategies for Employers

The majority of workplace prevention strategies target the entire workforce. However, despite these preventative measures, employees may struggle with opioid misuse or OUD. There are a number of ways that employers can assist in preventing opioid misuse.

While employers cannot address all individual and community-level risk and protective factors, they can mitigate workplace risk and enhance workplace protective factors.  

Employee Assistance Programs

Offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or hosting drug education classes and assisting with access to treatment options are good examples of this.

Reducing drug use will create a healthier work environment and lead to increases in the company’s overall productivity, quality of work produced and workplace safety. 

Employers with EAPs report:

  • improved employee health
  • decreased medical benefit utilization

Encouragement and support for treatment is the first step in providing an employee with an EAP.

Drug Testing in the Workplace

Employees are subjected to drug testing for a variety of reasons, including to ensure compliance with regulations and accuracy in hiring decisions.

Employee drug abuse could compromise customer and employee safety, resulting in accidents, injuries or absenteeism.

Implementing drug testing policies has benefits and increases safety in the workplace, productivity, etc. Ensuring employees are not using illicit drugs can reduce health issues and the risk of injuries or accidents.

Drug testing may be required by employers for high-risk positions or as part of routine screening procedures. Companies can ensure the safety of all employees by conducting drug testing, which can also act as a deterrent to drug use in the workplace. 

When an employer conducts drug tests, they will usually provide instructions on how to prepare for the tests. This may include avoiding substances and certain medications for a certain amount of time.

Treatment Options for Fentanyl and Opioid Use

The first step to recovery is finding treatment options. Treatment has the potential to save a life and help those struggling with opioid addiction in getting their lives, and their families, back on track to being productive members of their families, communities and workplaces.

There are various opioid addiction treatment methods to suit individual needs. Medication and behavioral therapy combined have the best results to treat opioid addiction. Success rates are higher when opioid addiction medication is included in a recovery plan.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) 

By helping to normalize brain chemistry, relieving cravings and sometimes preventing withdrawal symptoms, opioid addiction treatment medications really help in one’s recovery. Medication Assisted Treatment is a “whole patient” approach that combines medication with behavioral counseling.

These medications include:

  1. buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex)
  2. methadone
  3. extended-release naltrexone (Vivitrol)

The choice to take medication as part of recovery is a personal medical decision, but there is strong evidence that taking medication helps people recover successfully.

What Can I Do to Help Someone Struggling with Opioid Use Disorder?

Anyone can help contribute to the recovery of their loved ones, coworkers and friends. 

Reduce Stigma and be Supportive

A person may be reluctant to disclose their substance use issues or to seek the necessary health services as a result of stigma. Recognize that opioid addiction is not a moral failing but rather a medical condition. Helping people feel safer means removing stigma.

Carry Naloxone

Overdose can be reversed and death can be avoided with naloxone. It is a life-saving, non-addictive drug that, if given promptly, can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Get Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl or opioid addiction, please get in touch with Luxe Recovery today. There are various treatment options which our knowledgeable admissions team can discuss with you.

Luxe Recovery offers a world class substance abuse and mental health treatment program to our clients as they make a commitment to overcome their addiction and live a fulfilling life of sobriety.

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