根据精算师协会（Society of Actuaries）最近的一份报告，2018年，单是滥用阿片类处方药物造成的经济影响就高达1,794亿美元。其中包括726亿美元的死亡成本、604亿美元的医疗成本、265亿美元的生产力损失，以及109亿美元的刑事司法系统成本。
要做到这一点，企业领导人首先要评估阿片类处方药物滥用给公司造成的影响。为了帮助公司了解药物滥用为本公司增加的成本，美国国家安全委员会（National Safety Council）提供了一个在线计算工具，将公司的员工基础、所处行业和位于哪个州都计算在内。例如，根据该计算器的计算，在加州，对于一家拥有100名员工的零售商而言，药物滥用每年将给其带来近3.7万美元的损失。
企业也应该考虑对其他公司和组织施加影响，促其共同努力。作为俄亥俄州阿片类药物教育联盟（Ohio Opioid Education Alliance）的创始成员，我亲眼目睹了企业联合起来，共同努力解决当地的阿片类药物成瘾问题。已经有80多家当地企业和组织加入了联盟，迄今为止，它们共捐赠了800多万美元用于资助一项针对家长和看护者的教育活动。其他企业则通过与利益相关方沟通或提供其他专业知识来为这项运动作出贡献。如果领头企业加大了工作力度，社区中的其他企业也会更有动力。
Every day, an average of 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.
The economic impact of prescription opioid abuse alone was a staggering $179.4 billion in 2018, according to a recent report by the Society of Actuaries. That includes $72.6 billion in mortality costs, $60.4 billion in health care costs, $26.5 billion in lost productivity, and $10.9 billion in criminal justice system costs.
Clearly, the opioid addiction crisis is too large for any one entity or sector to combat alone—it impacts every segment of society. So, a one-size-fits-all solution won’t work.
Now is the time for business leaders to stand up and take an active role in addressing this epidemic. By joining forces with public health officials, elected leaders, and law enforcement, businesses can help enhance locally-tailored solutions in communities across the country.
Simply put, addiction is a workforce issue. If business leaders can intervene and get people the help they need while keeping them employed, it could make a huge difference in their recovery. It can save costs associated with health care and lost productivity. And helping people through an addiction crisis may create some of a company’s most loyal and productive workers down the road.
To do so, business leaders need to first assess the impact of prescription opioid abuse within their own companies. To help companies understand the cost of substance use in their workplace, the National Safety Council offers an online calculator tool, which considers a company’s employee base, industry, and state to estimate the related workplace costs. For example, according to the calculator, a retailer in California with 100 employees would lose nearly $37,000 a year due to substance abuse issues.
Business leaders need to also shift their mindset about how to respond to addiction in the workplace. While a one-chance-only policy may seem logical, it may actually be more costly than other alternatives in terms of training new workers and lost productivity. When employers embrace the reality that addiction is a disease, not a character flaw, it opens up new possibilities. Creating second chance policies that provide employees access to counseling and recovery resources, and proactively educating about the dangers of prescription opioids are all ways businesses can make a difference. Communicating to employees about the dangers of addiction and available resources can help make workers feel more comfortable to seek the help they need.
And it's good for the bottom line, too. For each employee seeking treatment, employers can save almost $2,607 per person each year, according to joint analysis from the National Safety Council, NORC at the University of Chicago, and nonprofit Shatterproof.
Additionally, businesses should actively engage with community stakeholders outside the walls of their company on this issue. Public health experts in many communities across the country already have strategic plans in place locally to respond to the opioid crisis, and are looking for any help they can muster to address this crisis. Working with these leaders to identify specific ways your organization can contribute to a community-wide solution can help the community better tackle the addiction problem in a more meaningful way. Explore if there is a particular part of the local strategy that needs additional resources and consider how to help fill a specific gap. Once that opportunity is identified, target resources and manpower to help educate the public, reduce addiction, and meet other local objectives.
Businesses can also engage by offering up professional capabilities and resources to enhance their community’s response to the opioid crisis. Offering expertise, funding, or other resources may augment public sector and government efforts to confront the prescription opioid crisis. For example, a company’s human resources team may be able to share best practices and resources to help other companies adequately and effectively address addiction in the workplace. From a communications perspective, offering the talents of a marketing team may help the public health experts to drive education and awareness more effectively.
Businesses should also consider influencing other companies and organizations to join the effort. As a founding member of the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of businesses coming together to combat opioid addiction in a community. More than 80 local businesses and organizations have joined the Alliance and, to date, have donated more than $8 million to fund the development of an education campaign aimed at parents and caregivers. Others have helped the campaign by communicating to stakeholders or offering other expertise. When leading companies step up, others in the community will be inspired to do so also.
It is going to take all stakeholders in communities across the country, working together, to protect our children, families, and workplaces from future opioid addiction. And businesses have a responsibility to help hone those locally-tailored solutions.
Kirt Walker is CEO of Nationwide.