Health Consciousness & Prescription Drugs: Workplace Prevention

Posted by Joel Bennett on

Health and human resource professionals of all types wake up! The growing epidemic of workforce prescription abuse needs your help. This is not just the domain of medicine; but also all safety, preventionemployee assistance, health promotion, and medical wellness providers

Health Consciousness & Prescription Drugs: Workplace Prevention Adult misuse of prescription drugs is a growing problem. Such misuse is often due to the need to manage pain, enhance productivity and attentiveness, and enhance or manage energy, restlessness, or fatigue. These issues of well-being can benefit from education and training in health consciousness. By health consciousness, I mean the ongoing ability to pay attention to what we ingest; getting exercise, rest; and using our body and mind together for a health enhancing purpose. Read more to learn about a training that gives tools for workplace populations.



Adult Misuse of Prescription Drugs is A Problem The growing epidemic in prescription drug problems impacts the workplace, with annual estimated lost earnings from premature death and reduced compensation/lost employment. While cost-of-illness estimates are an inexact science, significant impact on the workplace is clear. For example, workplace costs associated with adult prescription Opioid misuse, dependence, and abuse is estimated at $25.6 billion annually. Also, the New York Times' recent description of worker ADHD drug abuse to enhance productivity, fits with a national survey estimating ADHD is itself associated with $19 billion in lost productivity costs annually. For those who consider ADHD to be primarily a childhood/adolescent issue, a recent study indicates childhood diagnosis predicts long-term occupational disability in adulthood. Other studies and reports support productivity loss estimates, and point to the lack of policy to address the issue.

While programmatic, educational efforts are being made to curb the growing epidemic, these are mostly focused on primary school and not the adult workforce. There are Solutions In response, a Technical Assistance Center on the Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace (the PAW TA Center) was created in 2012. Our new training furthers PAW educational efforts by providing primary prevention to enhance employee knowledge and abilities to curb their own misuse, as well as that of their children, aging parents, and coworkers. Workplace wellness professionals might learn from the PAW archives linked above.


New Training Last year, as part of the PAW initiative, I was asked to develop a slide deck for a prescription drug prevention module in the workplace. I conducted a webinar where I presented an abbreviated, but solid portion of the training and used the webinar and a follow-up survey to ascertain professional response to the utility of the program. In total, we had about 70 participants attend the webinar (health education specialists, psychologists, EAPs, and prevention educators) and another 25 complete a detailed review of the program. Overall, many indicated that there was a great need for the training and the majority reported that they could use the content in their own practice, their perspective on prescription prevention improved, they actually planned on using the content, and/or were interested in being certified. 

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