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A Substance Use Cost Calculator for US Employers With an Emphasis on Prescription Pain Medication Misuse

Goplerud, Eric PhD; Hodge, Sarah MPH; Benham, Tess BS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 11 - p 1063–1071
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001157
Original Articles

Objective: Substance use disorders are among the most common and costly health conditions affecting Americans. Despite estimates of national costs exceeding $400 billion annually, individual companies may not see how substance use impacts their bottom lines through lost productivity and absenteeism, turnover, health care expenses, disability, and workers’ compensation.

Methods: Data on employed adults (18 years and older) from 3 years (2012 to 2014) of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Public Use Data Files were analyzed.

Results: The results offer employers an authoritative, free, epidemiologically grounded, and easy-to-use tool that gives specific information about how alcohol, prescription pain medication misuse, and illicit drug use is likely impacting workplaces like theirs.

Conclusion: Employers have detailed reports of the cost of substance use that can be used to improve workplace policies and health benefits.

NORC at the University of Chicago, Bethesda, Maryland (Dr Goplerud, Ms Hodge); and National Safety Council, Itasca, Illinois (Ms Benham).

Address correspondence to: Eric Goplerud, PhD, NORC at the University of Chicago, 4350 East-West Highway, 8th Floor, Bethesda, MD 20814 (

Funding for this study was provided by a contract from the National Safety Council. All sources of support were provided by National Safety Council, Shatterproof.

Saira Huq, MPH, and Danielle Noriega, BA, of NORC, and Christopher Sanew, MFA, Zachary Davis, MBA, and Matt Bohlman, BA, of the National Safety Council contributed valuable analytic, editorial, and data visualization expertise throughout the project.

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.

Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine