Opioids have garnered a lot of headlines in recent years, with a strong focus on the prevalence of opioid abuse in the US. Over half a million people died from opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2020, and the situation isn’t improving. Many addicts are still holding down jobs while they fight their addiction, which causes massive problems for companies.
What are Opioids?
Opioids include prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, fentanyl, and hydrocodone, as well as illegal drugs like heroin. These drugs are so dangerous because they trigger the brain’s reward center. Not surprisingly, people want more of this feel-good sensation.
Opioids are highly addictive. When someone takes an opioid, it binds to receptors in the brain that control feelings of pleasure and pain. Over time, the brain becomes dependent on the drug to feel good and function normally. As tolerance builds, people may need higher and higher doses to get the same effect, which can increase the risk of overdose.
The Side Effects
Drugs like fentanyl can cause serious side effects. They slow down breathing, which can be fatal in high doses or when combined with other substances like alcohol or sedatives. Other side effects include constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, and other symptoms that can make it difficult to function normally.
The Social and Economic Consequences
In addition to the physical risks, opioids can also have serious social and economic consequences. Addiction to opioids often leads to job loss, financial problems, and strained relationships with family and friends. It can also increase the risk of criminal activity like theft and drug dealing as people steal to get the money they need for the drugs they crave. It is a vicious circle.
The opioid epidemic in the United States has highlighted just how dangerous these drugs can be. The crisis has been fueled in part by the over-prescription of opioids by doctors, as well as the availability of these drugs on the black market. People have been prescribed opioids for problems like back pain and are then not monitored closely enough.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
To combat the opioid epidemic, many states and countries have implemented new policies aimed at reducing opioid prescriptions and increasing access to addiction treatment. For example, some states have implemented prescription drug monitoring programs that track patients’ opioid use and help identify those who may be at risk of addiction. Others have expanded access to medications like naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose and save lives.
Workplace Drug Testing
Companies and HR departments must be alert for the signs and symptoms of opioid abuse. Opioid addiction is not just a public health issue – it’s also a human problem that caring employers can’t afford to ignore. Turning a blind eye to the problem can lead to injuries in the workplace as well as absenteeism and other disruptions. Implement DOT drug testing regularly, so you can identify people with an issue and put measures in place to help them.
The opioid epidemic has highlighted just how devastating these drugs can be, and it will take a concerted effort from all sectors of society to address this crisis and prevent future harm.
Article written by HR Future Staff Writer.