New Solut. 2021 Nov;31(3):210-218. doi: 10.1177/10482911211039880. Epub 2021 Aug 25.
The United States’ opioid public health crisis continues having disastrous consequences on communities, including workers and employers. From May 2019 to May 2020, the largest number of drug overdose deaths was recorded over a twelve-month period. The “twindemics” of COVID-19 and opioids underscore the urgent need to address workers’ physical and mental health. Although much has been written about the negative impacts of the opioid epidemic on the workplace, few initiatives have focused on primary prevention, addressing work-related root causes of opioid use disorders (e.g., injury, stress) that may lead to prescription or illicit opioid use. We suggest primary prevention efforts to address the connection between workplace hazards and opioid misuse, dependence, and addiction such as examining patterns of work injury and stress with records of opioid prescription. Government funding should be expanded to support primary prevention and research efforts to strengthen the evidence-base to support workplace primary prevention endeavors.