Human Capital Risk Update: Substance Abuse on the Rise

CCA’s counselors have observed an upsurge in the human capital risk posed by substance abuse among employees. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in prescription painkiller abuse and heroin abuse,” remarks Dr. Jay Sandys, Vice President of EAP Operations and Clinical Services.

Jay explains that, with the introduction of medications such as Oxycontin, prescription painkillers have become much more powerful and, consequently, more addictive. As users’ habits evolve, these prescriptions can act as a “gateway” to harder drugs. Heroin is particularly cheap and pure these days, making it the alternative of choice when an addiction to painkillers becomes too expensive to support.

These observations corroborate the trends unfolding in the nation at large. Between 1999 and 2010, the number of prescription drug overdoses leapt by 265% among men and by 400% among women, according to the CDC. The increase in prescription painkiller abuse has coincided with an increase in heroin addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, cases of heroin dependence have risen by approximately 85% since 2002.

These figures signal a serious human capital risk to the workplace, where a single employee’s struggle with substance abuse can jeopardize an entire department and even the organization at large. To help address such risks, CCA offers a full array of solutions that support the employee and the organization. EAP counselors assist and monitor the individual’s recovery from addiction, while the organization is supported by 24/7 access to the Management Consultation Team as well as Fitness for Duty and Return to Work evaluations and services.