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Opiate Abuse Affects Kentucky's Workforce

Shocking reports coming out from Kentucky State Department of Workforce indicate that a big percentage of the qualified workforce has fallen under the drug abuse usage. According to Beth Kuhn of the Workforce Investment Commission, most of these workers fail to secure their preferred jobs due to their inability to pass the initial drug tests administered as part of the recruiting process. Owing to this state of affairs, some employers have decided to alter their drug testing policies so as to be able to secure the services of skilled long-term employees.

The move to relax the standards governing drug testing policies has been faulted by Will Wesch, Director for Admissions for Novus Medical Detox Center who argues that such a move fails to address the root cause of the drug problem ailing the state. Reports indicate that the workforce loses $120.3 billion, $193 billion, $11.4 billion and $61.4 billion due to lost productivity, illicit drug use, health care cost and criminal justice cost respectively.

A recent study reveals that about 15.4 million Americans in the workforce are hooked on some illicit drug. The FDA tops the list with 18.6% of its workers abusing drugs. It is closely followed by construction industry with 17.4%. Third place is occupied by arts and entertainment industry with 14% of its workforce abusing illicit substances.

Wesch asserts that most employees who use or abuse drugs do so to help them function optimally at their workplaces. Once the “high” effect begins to wear off, the worker is forced to take another puff or dose to become high again so that he can maintain his level of productivity. This group of addicts is what we commonly refer to as “functional addicts”. They depend on the drugs to function optimally.

Research by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) found that drug abuse yields an unstable workforce. Additionally, officials from Novus Medical Detox Center argue that the loosening of the drug testing policies have so many far-reaching ramifications that can easily lead to loss of financial income, loss of productivity and even go as far as leading to loss of lives.

Wesch advises employers to take a more proactive stance against illicit drug abuse. He observes that random drug testing would help deter employees from abusing drugs and goes further to protect the health, well-being and productivity of the workforce. Notable gains have been made by EAP services and referrals that have worked guided by the tenet of confidentiality. Moreover, Wesch suggests that employees should establish Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which is designed to help employees deal with personal challenges that have a potential of affecting their productivity, health and well-being.

Novus Medical Detox Center is an example of a referral center where employees fighting addiction can be sent for help. The center has a proven track record of helping workers get their careers and lives back on the right track. The treatment programs are personalized to fit each patient's profile and minimize the risks associated with drug withdrawal. Most patients complete their Detox programs within two weeks and some are referred to individual aftercare programs if need be.

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