How to Manage Drug Use in the Work Place

In the third Zoom meeting of Rotary, speaker Bill Lillis of Drug Free New Jersey outlined guidelines for employers related to drug use and abuse of both prescription drugs and alcohol.

Lillis said his organization provides technical assistance to employers in how to maintain a drug free environment in the workplace.

He also said with the COVID-19 crisis upon us many of those with drug related abuse issues are unable to attend programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Coupled with the possible stress of job loss is making many people more stressed and vulnerable to addiction.

On top of that to add self isolation and many people are hurting, he said.

HIs organization receives help from companies including PSE&G which provides drug prevention coloring books for free to third graders.

He said with the help of Drug Free NJ employers have a great opportunity to help employees with drug prevention information.

He also said Illinois has legalized marijuana and New Jersey will be looking into the effects on that state as New Jersey votes on a similar referendum in November.

Lillis spoke of the problem of illicit drug coming from South America, but said those countries turned the tables on DEA agents saying it is the American market that consumes the bulk of their product.

He also spoke of the over prescribing of opioids for pain relief which lead many, many Americans to become addicted, long after their pain subsided.

Alcohol abuse also he said was a problem and according to current numbers is the third largest cause of death in the United States.

He cited statistics showing that many people currently in the workforce are addicted and working to subsidize their drug problem.

But he said in recent years doctors and dentists have relied less on opioids for pain with prescriptions down to 3.6 million in 2019 from 5 million in 2018.

For those who are managing their pain responsibly Lillis said, “We don’t want to stop that….we want to stop the overprescribing.”

He also said heroin is now being sold on the street for as little as $5.

He said having opioids in the home is also a hazard citing a case of a grandchild stealing a grandparent’s prescription drugs and selling them on the street.

One current danger is Fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic drug that is 15 times more potent than morphine.

The drug is often added to other drugs when being made overseas.

Adderall he said has also become a problem with college students using it to study and then bringing it into the workplace when they become employed.

Lillis said as medical marijuana has become legal he has seen the benefits of the compassionate use it adds to those with cancer or to relieve chronic pain.

Marta said, through her work, she deals with addicted people who ca not get to their support programs. She is especially concerned without internet access or cell phones which would allow to participate virtually.