Substance abuse is costly to society and is a pernicious problem in families, communities and workplaces. Drug and alcohol abuse can be an expensive problem for businesses and communities, with issues ranging from lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, low employee morale, increases health care costs, legal liabilities and workers' compensation costs.
According to NCADD, of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs, 70% are working.1 The estimated economic impact of substance abuse disorders is $442 billion. Unfortunately, the workplace takes a larger portion of the economic impact due to healthcare costs, absenteeism and lost productivity. Shatterproof states that “workers with pain medication use disorder cost employers more than three times the healthcare costs of the average worker.”2 The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that "abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity, and health care.”3
The nation is currently grappling with the crisis of the opioid epidemic. The Pew Charitable Trusts states that "U.S. opioid overdose deaths, including prescription painkillers and heroin, exceeded 28,000 in 2014, with a one-year increase of 14 percent."4 The Urban Observatory created an interactive map of the US that highlights locations where opioid use and prescription rates are higher than the national average. The map illustrates, "With 78 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose, drug-related deaths in the United States has hit an all-time high.5 The number of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. and the number of prescription opioid deaths has both quadrupled since 1999. Since then, over 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses." Although, as the Pew Charitable Trust notes, effective treatment is available for substance abuse disorders, too few people have access.6
The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce's (MD) 2016 Expo featured a Youth Opioid Prevention panel.