The opioid epidemic that has swept across our nation threatens the lives of people in Pennsylvania and across the country. Business owners in all industries have expressed concern about the threat and the impact it could have on their profits. Sadly, if you are a victim of opioid addiction, you will likely have more pressing concerns than profits. Along with jeopardizing your job, opioid addiction can threaten your life as well.
You might have first started using opioids after suffering a workplace injury. Because they are powerful medications that effectively reduce pain, physicians might inadvertently start a worker's downfall. Opioids act on a person's nervous system, and typically include prescription hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and others.
What makes opioids dangerous?
Although these medications have confirmed benefits, they pose serious risks. When correctly prescribed for specific conditions, and used as instructed, they can provide effective pain management. However, their ingredients make them highly addictive, and when people abuse or misuse them, serious harm can follow. These may include physical dependence, addiction, withdrawal symptoms and even overdose and death.
Because of the effectiveness of pain management, injured workers can return to work much sooner, and some see it as a win-win situation. Injury absences that typically threaten the incomes of workers and the production -- and bottom line -- of the company can be limited with the use of opioids. However, some business owners fail to recognize the immense financial impact this epidemic has on the American workforce of which a significant percentage return to their jobs while they are still under the influence of these drugs.
Illegal opioid use
Sadly, opioids have become the drugs of choice for many people who choose to get high on these dangerous substances. Although drug tests form part of the hiring process of many companies, screening for drugs that fall in the legal prescription category, such as fentanyl or oxycodone, does not form part of regular drug screening. Authorities report that millions of people nationwide admit to the illegal use of prescription painkillers.
Although this problem is not restricted to particular industries, workers in construction, manufacturing and trucking are reportedly more inclined to abuse opioids. At the same time, these are also some of the most dangerous industries in which on-the-job injuries and subsequent workers' compensation claims are prevalent. While the overdose potential of opioids poses a life-threatening risk, being under their influence can also prove to be dangerous. Reportedly, this can decrease job performance, employee morale and exacerbate the occurrences of workplace injuries that could be fatal.
Opioid users can take steps to avoid losing everything
If you are struggling to get over an opioid addiction, you may find comfort in knowing that comprehensive treatment that includes detox may allow you to get back on track and maintain your career. Taking the first steps may be tough, but with the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney, proper rehabilitation treatment might be initiated. A skilled Pennsylvania lawyer can examine the chances of obtaining benefits to help cover the costs of treatment and any lost wages that occur due to time away from work.