According to recent research, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in opioid abuse fueled by stress and lack of access to prevention services and support groups due to restrictions on in-person meetings. To put this in perspective, in Erie County, N.Y., for example, deaths from opioid overdoses during the first four months of 2020 were up 100% from the same period in 2019.
The National Institute of Environmental Sciences at the National Institutes of Health encourages employers to involve workers in identifying jobs and other work factors that pose a risk of injury, stress or pain and take action to prevent injuries and stressors that may lead to prescription opioid use or self-medication.
Social isolation, particularly among people in recovery, can trigger feelings of loneliness, stress, depression, and anxiety. COVID-19, however, has brought about stress and anxiety among those previously not at risk. Here are some ways to manage stress:
Ways individuals can manage and improve their mental health:
- Get enough sleep, 7-8 hours per night
- Eat healthy
- Exercise or move about
When a worker gets injured on the job, employers should provide support including:
- Assistance with workers’ compensation
- Paid time off
- Access to medical and psychological care
- Information about avoiding opioid misuse and how to speak to medical providers about alternative pain treatments
- Reach out to co-workers, friends, family or neighbors who are struggling
- Get professional help if the stressors are having a negative impact on your life
For more information on reducing opioid use in the workplace, view the NIEHS/NIH Opioids and the Workplace: Prevention and Response and the NSC’s Opioids at Work: Employer Toolkit.
Get access to help and other resources on the Department of Health and Human Services National Opioid Crisis Help and Resources page.