Seven in 10 employers in the United States feel that the misuse of prescription drugs is having a negative impact on their business, a new survey has claimed.

A report produced by the National Safety Council revealed that 71 per cent of American bosses agreed that the abuse of prescription medicines was a medical condition in need of treatment. The poll found that 65 per cent of employers saw the misuse of prescription drugs as a good reason to sack a member of staff.

Despite these figures, only 39 per cent of those questioned actually viewed prescription drugs as a serious threat to safety.

The research, which was carried out by the National Safety Council, the University of Chicago and Shatterproof, involved interviewing 501 people at businesses with a minimum of 50 workers. The report found that the annual cost of substance abuse on taxpayers was more than $440 billion.

Businesses often bear the brunt of drug misuse as it typically leads to lower productivity, higher staff absence rates and potential healthcare costs. Those who are dependent on drugs miss almost 50 per cent more days of work than their colleagues.

The researchers found that successfully getting a member of staff to accept treatment for substance misuse could potentially save companies up to $2,607 per worker per year.

The report claimed that prescription drug misuse was particularly rife among companies in the construction, entertainment, food service and recreation industries.

Companies need to address addiction

Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, a non-profit organisation set up to support those affected by addiction, said: “This is a wakeup call for businesses. When it comes to addiction’s cost in the workplace, the numbers are staggering.”

To try and help employers understand the potential impact prescription drugs could have on their business, the three organisations involved in the report have created a substance use cost calculator. This online took allows companies to work out the estimated financial impact alcohol, prescription medication and illegal drugs could have on their organisation based on the number of employees and the industry they are in.

Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said: “Businesses that do not address the prescription drug crisis are like ostriches sticking their head in the sand. The problem exists and doing nothing will harm your employees and your business.”

AlphaBiolabs carries out workplace drug testing for companies and organisations in a variety of different industries. Tests can be carried out to detect the presence of prescription drugs like codeine, morphine and steroids.

There are a number of options available to companies from regular random tests to detailed analysis of an individual employee as part of an investigation into their conduct. We offer urine, blood and hair strand tests and can also carry out screening as part of the recruitment process.