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White-Collar Opioid Abuse: The Reasons and Resources

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Priscilla Henson, MD
Priscilla Henson, MD
Dr. Priscilla Henson is a Resident Physician specializing in Emergency Medicine at a community hospital in central California. She also serves as a member of the Pain Management Quality Improvement Committee through the same hospital. Part of the committee’s mandate is to work toward non-narcotic pain management alternatives.

White-Collar Opioid Abuse: The Reasons and ResourcesIndustries that are considered “white-collar” include legal, finance, management, and more. Many of these careers boast long hours and heavy workloads, often causing high levels of stress in the individuals involved. And that’s only one reason for the continued issues of white-collar opioid abuse.

Let’s look at the main causes and what prescription drugs these professionals turn to in their time of need.

Reasons Working Professionals Start Taking Opioids

Company Culture

The atmosphere of many companies creates a setting where drug use isn’t as taboo or frowned upon as it once was. While it may not be promoted, over 70% of businesses have seen prescription drug use within their culture.¹

High Expectations

Many white-collar workers face large workloads, tight deadlines, and high expectations from both clients and their managers. Opioid use is a tactic many professionals resort to as a means of boosting their energy levels and feeling more prepared to tackle the day’s activities.

Stress Level

Within the workplace, the most common causes of stress are a heavy workload, issues with co-workers and clients, work/life balance, as well as a lacking sense of job security.² These continuous sources of stress are one of the most typical reasons for prescription drug abuse.

Easy to Obtain

Recovery from major surgeries, chronic pain maintenance and injuries usually require opioids in some capacity for the recovery on pain management process. Since 1999, opioid prescriptions have increased by three times, making it much easier for white-collar professionals to access them.³

Prescription Drugs that Plague White-Collar Professionals

In 2017, the number of people who died from a prescription drug overdose while on the job increased by 32% from the previous year.4 There are a few specific opioids that turn up in these reports more often than others.

Oxycodone

With the common brand-name labels of OxyContin and Percocet, the generic prescription s Oxycodone helps users feel relief from moderate to severe pain.

Hydrocodone

When combined with acetaminophen, hydrocodone is available in several branded formulations, including Vicodin. Vicodin, like some other prescription opioids, including oxycodone, is indicated for use to manage moderately severe pain.

Fentanyl

Perhaps a less well-known prescription drug under names like Actiq, Fentora, and Duragesic, this option is a fully synthetic opioid. Coming in a variety of forms ranging from lozenges and pills to spray and even patches, Fentanyl is a highly potent drug that can easily lead to addiction.

Treating White-Collar Opioid Abuse

The disease of addiction is encompasses all forms of available opioids. But numerous options are available to provide help to professionals who are struggling with prescription drugs. Many companies offer employee assistance programs ranging from therapy to drug help.

But even with these programs, it is still suggested for those having problems with opioid abuse to seek out treatment from professionals. Their specialized training and facilities provide added support during what can be a difficult process.

Sources:

  1. Hersman, Deborah A.P. 2017. How the Prescription Drug Crisis is Impacting American Employers.
  2. The American Institute of Stress. Workplace Stress.
  3. Gery P. Guy Jr., Ph.D.; Kun Zhang, Ph.D.; Michele K. Bohm, MPH; Jan Losby, Ph.D.; Brian Lewis; Randall Young, MA; Louise B. Murphy, PhD; Deborah Dowell, MD. July 7, 2017. Vital Signs: Changes in Opioid Prescribing in the United States, 2006–2015.
  4. Shaykhet, Simon. June 21, 2018. Workplaces fighting opioid addiction as percentage of users at work grows.
Last Updated on February 19, 2020
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Priscilla Henson, MD
Priscilla Henson, MD
Dr. Priscilla Henson is a Resident Physician specializing in Emergency Medicine at a community hospital in central California. She also serves as a member of the Pain Management Quality Improvement Committee through the same hospital. Part of the committee’s mandate is to work toward non-narcotic pain management alternatives.
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