Safety Tips Drugs Off the job Wellness

Recognize the signs of opioid misuse

Photo: PamelaJoeMcFarlane/iStockphoto

From April 2020 to April 2021, drug overdose deaths topped 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opioid use disorder is defined by Johns Hopkins Medicine as a medical condition in which you’re unable to abstain from using opioids, and behaviors centered around opioid use that interfere with daily life. Some common symptoms of opioid misuse are the inability to control your use of the narcotics, weight loss, drowsiness, uncontrollable cravings, changes in sleep habits, isolation from family and frequent flu-like symptoms.

If the use of opioids is affecting your life or work, or you think you may have a problem with opioid use, the time to seek help is now.

Who can you talk to?
An employee assistance program representative. If your employer has an EAP, its services are free and confidential – nothing discussed will be shared with your employer. When you talk to a representative, you can get advice and referrals.
Your doctor. Be honest about your substance misuse or mental health distress and work together to create a treatment plan.
A supervisor or human resources professional. These employees can work within your employer’s policies to help you get treatment and preserve your job status.

If none of these resources is available to you, or you don’t feel comfortable exploring these options, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has an online Treatment Services Locator, as well as a 24/7, year-round treatment referral and information hotline you can call at (800) 662-HELP (4357).

Learn more about the opioid crisis at

From the National Safety Council's "Impairment Recognition and Response Training for Supervisors" course. Learn more about this new NSC eLearning which trains frontline supervisors, safety professionals and managers to recognize and properly respond to diverse causes of workplace impairment. © 2021 National Safety Council

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