America is in the middle of a deadly drug crisis, and enterprise security can play a key role to mitigate the epidemic. In 2015, more than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses, nearly two-thirds of which were linked to opioids such as Percocet, OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl.

In a webinar, Jim Sawyer, Security Director for Seattle Children’s displayed statistics to demonstrate just how bad the crisis has become. For example, he said, drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined. Drug overdoses in 2015 also killed more people in the US than HIV/AIDS did during its peak in 1995.  

Sawyer also noted that Americans by and far consume more opioids than the rest of the world. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some states have more painkiller prescriptions than people.  

How does the epidemic impact American workers? According to statistics, 1.8 million workers miss work, and many more may not be able to find work or to keep their jobs, due to their addiction.

In his presentation, Sawyer detailed the risk factors for addiction, to include a family history of drug or alcohol abuse and if someone has used drugs at an early age before their brain is fully developed.

He also discussed the sings of addiction and the signs of withdrawals.

Last, Sawyer discussed how security teams and security officers should be trained to handle the opioid addiction, to include documenting behaviors and observations, asking open-ended questions, involving a supervisor, and emphasizing that the crisis does impact a workforce in terms of the environment and productivity.

“It’s a silent epidemic because often, these drugs are prescribed. But the people who abuse them should know that enterprise security is available to help them,” Sawyer said.