What role can employers play in combatting this 21st-century drug crisis? Prescription Drug Use Often Leads To Heroin Addiction To understand how we ended up in the midst of this crisis, it’s helpful to have some background information. Opioids may be found in any medicine cabinet. They are a broad group of drugs including the regularly prescribed painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl. They interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to create a pleasurable experience and relieve pain. Due to the relief they provide, consumers of these drugs often become dependent. Once addicted, individuals may turn to heroin, which, although illegal, is often a cheaper and more accessible opioid. In fact, nearly 23 percent of opioid users will eventually become addicted to heroin, and approximately four in five heroin addicts developed their addiction after taking prescription painkillers. Employees may be prescribed opioids to relieve pain following a workplace injury, which could begin a path to dependency. Regardless of how an employee begins the abuse cycle, use of these drugs could have a dramatic impact on the individual’s performance.
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