Legal

Obama Announces Initiative to Help Intercede in Opioid Epidemic

By Sarah Sipek

Feb. 2, 2016

I wrote a story for the February issue of Workforce on the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the workplace. And it didn’t take much research to find out that opioid abuse is a major problem for U.S. employers.

In 2015 alone, almost 2 million Americans aged 12 and older either abused or were dependent on opioid pain relievers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Society of Addiction Medicine estimates that opiate misuse costs the U.S. economy $55.7 billion a year, with employers shouldering nearly half of that cost. In addition, they lose an average of $10 billion from lost work and productivity alone.

Today President Obama took steps to ease the burden on employers and keep the nation safe.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will seek $1.1 billion in new budget funding over the next two years to fight the epidemic. The government has currently budgeted $400 million to battle opioid abuse in 2016 alone – up $100 million on what the federal government spent on the same task in 2015.

"This president has made clear that addressing this opioid epidemic is a priority for him, and this budget reflects this," said Michael Botticelli, the director of National Drug Control Policy under President Barack Obama. Botticelli said that the additional funding request "underscores the urgency of additional action that we need to take."

Opioids were involved in 28,648 fatalities in 2014, according to figures cited by the White House.

Most of the proposed new funding, $920 million, would be earmarked for cooperative agreements the federal government has with individual states to "expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders," the White House said in a statement.

The amount of money states would receive would depend "on the severity of the epidemic" and the strength of a state's strategy to respond to the funding.

In the meantime, there are steps employers can take to both protect their employees against addiction and aid in their recovery.

Liz Griggs, president of Canterbury Healthcare, recommends early engagement and education of employees about what addiction looks like and how to avoid it.

If addiction is already an issue, employers need a plan in place to provide employees with access to resources such as detox centers and counselors, often through employee assistance programs. 

For more information on steps employers can take to effectively address opioid addiction in the workplace, check out this month’s feature, “Pain Points.” 

Sarah Sipek is a Workforce associate editor.

What’s New at Workforce.com?

blog workforce

Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.

Book a call
See the software
workforce news

Related Articles

workforce blog

Compliance

Minimum Wage by State in 2023 – All You Need to Know

Summary Twenty-three states and D.C. raised their minimum wage rates in 2023, effective January 1.  Thr...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog

Legal

New Labor Laws Taking Effect in 2023

The new year is fast approaching, and with its arrival comes a host of new labor laws that will impact ...

labor laws, minimum wage, wage and hour law

workforce blog

Legal

Wage and Hour Laws in 2022: What Employers Need to Know

Whether a mom-and-pop shop with a handful of employees or a large corporation staffing thousands, compl...

compliance, wage and hour law