National Poison Prevention Week is March 17-23

Opioid Crisis Encompassing Nearly Every Aspect of American Life

Every year, poison control centers receive more than 2 million calls from people seeking medical help for poisoning. It is the leading cause of unintentional death, surpassing even motor vehicle crashes, and includes drug overdoses.

Drugs at Work

More than 100 people die every day from opioid overdoses, and 75% of employers say their workplaces have been impacted by opioid use, according to a National Safety Council poll. Only 17% of employers feel well-prepared to deal with the issue.

  • 38% have experienced absenteeism or impaired worker performance
  • 31% have had an overdose, arrest, near-miss or injury because of employee opioid use

For the first time in U.S. history, a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash, according to NSC calculations. In fact, workplace overdose deaths involving drugs or alcohol have increased by at least 25% for five consecutive years.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Employers are more concerned about hiring, and benefits and worker compensation costs than employee use of legal or illicit opioids, however opioid misuse can impact all other issues employers cited as more concerning
  • 86% of employers believe taking opioids even as prescribed can impair job performance, yet only 60% have policies in place requiring employees to notify their employer when they are using a prescription opioid
  • Only half of employers are very confident they have the appropriate HR policies and resources to deal with opioid use and misuse in the workplace
  • 79% are not very confident that individual employees can spot warning signs of opioid misuse
  • Encouragingly, 41% of employers would return an employee to work after he or she receives treatment for misusing prescription opioids

NSC provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help employers manage opioid use at work. Based on additional survey results, NSC intends to add components to the kit, including a robust workplace policy.

A copy of the survey questionnaire and full methodology is available here.

Drugs at Home and in the Community

People can become quickly addicted without realizing it is happening. Prescription opioids have been historically overprescribed by doctors, are frequently shared among family members who don't realize the dangers of sharing prescription medications, and stolen from medicine cabinets.

Children are misusing prescription drugs at an alarming rate, and even over-the-counter medications, like cold medicines and sleeping aids, can be dangerous.

Ending this epidemic is a major focus of the National Safety Council. Start here to learn what we're doing to end it and how you can help – and be sure to keep the National Poison Control Center number, (800) 222-1222, in your cell phone contacts.

Signs of an Overdose

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 and be prepared to start CPR. If you have the opiate antidote naloxone, administer it immediately.

Facing an Everyday Killer

In 2017, more than 49,000 lives were lost to opioid misuse. This video puts a face on those affected by the opioid crisis.

NSC Survivor Advocate Network

The Survivor Advocate Network is a community of individuals and families whose lives have been forever changed by the preventable deaths of their loved ones. The network allows individuals or organizations to connect, share stories, educate communities and influencers, advocate for change and engage with the media to help eliminate preventable deaths.

Meet some of the NSC Survivor Advocates who have lost loved ones to opioid misuse.

Watch Out for All the Poisons in Your Home

More than 90% of all poisonings happen at home. Familiarize yourself with the dangers that lurk there. Button batteries, household products and lead can all cause injury to young children. Do you know how to childproof your home? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers information to help get you started.