Addressing Pain Management & Opioid Use/Abuse

Building a Business Case: Economics & Impact

Why Address Pain Management?

Most employers are unaware of the direct and indirect costs associated with pain management and opioid abuse, however the financial impact for employers is significant. Pain related conditions affect 116 million adults in the U.S. and result in $560 - $635 billion in medical costs and lost productivity for employers. In addition, the overuse of opioids to address pain costs employers nearly twice as much in medical expenses on average annually than non-abusers.1 This adds up to an annual tab of approximately $10 billion in absenteeism and lower productivity.6

The “Substance Abuse Calculator for Employers,” a tool from the NSC, provides specific information about the cost of substance abuse and misuse in your workplace based on size of employee base, industry and state.

Prescription opioids, when abused, pose health and safety issues for employers. According to the NSC:

  • Opioid use increases the risk of errors, accidents and injuries even when the drug is taken as prescribed. Nearly half of adults polled by the NSC reported participating in an unsafe activity while using opioids, including being at work, driving a vehicle and operating heavy machinery. 9
  • Prescription painkillers, including opioids, can reduce productivity and increase workers’ compensation costs and lost work time. Workers who abuse pain medications miss nearly three times as much work as their peers.9
  • People who abuse opioids use the emergency room more than four times as often, are twice as likely to be hospitalized and stay more than twice as long as workers without substance abuse problems.10