Many studies have been made to quantify the costs of illegal drugs on society, but what about prescription drugs? There’s no doubt that prescription drug addictions exist, and they cost both victims and their employers. With Canada ranking in the top 10% of countries in terms of opioid, stimulant and benzodiazepine prescriptions, this is an issue worthy of our concern.
Not surprisingly, prescription drugs cause harm to drug abusers in the form of dependence and harmful use. For instance, benzodiazepine overdose is known to be lethal to those who mix it with alcohol. At the same time, prescription drug abuse represents a wider problem in the form of costs to employers. Since many of these drugs are included in extended health coverage plans, employers often end up unknowingly financing illegitimate prescriptions of their employees. Pharmaceuticals are responsible for 80% of extended health benefit costs, and according to Human Solutions, many of these drugs are not medically necessary.
There are several actions an employer can and should take to mitigate the risk of paying for employees’ prescription drug abuse. Firstly, employers can ensure that employees are well-educated about prescription drug abuse by distributing information about how to resist abuse and how to recognize signs of addiction. Secondly, larger employers can hire specialists to conduct a study pinpointing any unnecessary healthcare expenditure. Lastly, a good long-term investment would be to fully establish a drug abuse education and assistance program.
Emma Haydon, Jürgen Rehm, Benedikt Fischer, Neerav Monga, & Edward Adlaf. (2005). Prescription Drug Abuse in Canada and the Diversion of Prescription Drugs into the Illicit Drug Market. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 96(6), 459-61. Retrieved April 14, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 942677011)