Americans underestimate dangers of substance abuse

As CCA reported in a November news story, the abuse of heroin and painkillers is on the rise. Between 1999 and 2010, the number of prescription drug overdoses leapt by 265% among men and by 400% among women, while cases of heroin dependence have risen by approximately 85% since 2002.

Despite the demonstrable dangers of overdose and addiction, many Americans underestimate the risks associated with substance abuse. According to a survey conducted by the National Safety Council, nine in ten users of opioid painkillers are unconcerned about the risks of addiction. Nor is it just the risks of using these drugs that Americans underestimate; they also underestimate the risks of sharing these drugs. Less than a third of those surveyed realize that giving their medications to others, even to friends and family, can result in up to a year in prison.

Misunderstandings such as these contribute to America’s alarming rate of addiction and the threats it can pose to a workforce. Training and development, however, can be a valuable resource in the effort to better prepare an organization to face the risks associated with substance abuse. For instance, CCA’s Addressing Substance Abuse in the Workplace gives supervisors practical tips for recognizing the behavioral warning signs of substance abuse among their staff and responding appropriately.