Amidst US Opioid Epidemic, A Business Is Trying To Fight Back

John Stroup’s Indiana business hit a major snag back in Winter of 2017. About one of every 10 of applicants for his factory didn’t get past the drug test, immediately disqualifying them for positions as per the company’s terms. On top of all of that, some of the 450 workers in the factory also failed their random drug tests. With US in the throes of an opioid crisis, the company is facing a problem that is damaging workforces across the country.

Drugs are straining the country’s workforce. Those suffering from addiction are either in no condition to work, or are still in Best Outpatient Rehab facilities, recovering. Factories, in particular, have taken the worst damage, with counties with high manufacturing jobs also seeing a proportionately large overdoes rates.

Some employers have decided to fight back by altering insurance contracts to prevent the prescription of painkillers, which can be addictive, according to data from the National Business Group on Health. Some are even offering Employee Assistance plans, which tend to include free sessions of counselling.

Stroup is notable because he decided to go further. What he’s done is being seen by some of the more desperate companies, as a role model to emulate. Stroup says it came down to simple cost-benefit analysis: what would the cost of helping his employees get sober, compared to the amount of money that would be lost to not having people work.

After meeting with his board members, Belden Inc. set up a program for applicants that failed their drug test, but still wanted to work. Should this happen, the company would pay for an evaluation at a local substance abuse treatment and Best Outpatient Rehab facility.

Those deemed as low risk would spend two months on a non-dangerous position until they’re allowed to use heavy equipment, provided they pass the company’s periodic random drug tests. For those in high risk, they’ll be sent to undergo an intensive outpatient monitoring and treatment program.

According to the supporters of the plan, it’s a great way to entice users to get clean and stay on their jobs, giving it their all. The idea, they say is that there isn’t really a carrot, there’s a job, which many Americans consider as critical to their success.

Studies, however, counters that they system is only really applicable and useful, whilst there’s a shortage of qualified workers. Research on the opioid crisis in the US, says that the severity is proportionate with economic conditions, and that a spike in unemployment would lead to there being less risky candidates.