Skip to main content
A man standing on a pier considering how illegal drug use hurts the workforce

What is the correlation between opioid drugs & the workforce? Learn how illegal drug use effects the labor force & find tips to help a loved one quit opioids.

The land of opportunity offers people a life of freedom and endless avenues of personal achievement. Foreign citizens have long since flooded our boarders in attempt to live, work and achieve the American dream. They know the potential that living within the 50 states provides.

The U.S. economy has recovered since the 2008 financial crisis. This prosperous state has thriving companies and delivers an abundance of available jobs. But as employers try hiring at a warp speed to keep up with incoming business, America’s workforce participation rate is not keeping pace.

This is due in large part to the great number of U.S. citizens failing to fully embrace the opportunities this country provides because of substance addiction, and, in particular, opioid addiction.

America’s Labor Force and the Opioid Crisis

Even though the U.S. economy has recovered and, thus, the unemployment rate has decreased, the workforce participation rate has seen no significant improvement. Researchers are attributing the lack of individuals who are employed or looking for jobs to the opioid crisis.

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 20.1 million Americans 12 or older had a substance use disorder. Of that, about 2.1 million had an opioid use disorder.

According to an insightful feature on NPR, the opioid crisis is depressing America’s workforce. Extensive reports and studies suggest that America’s workforce participation rate is weak and trailing behind other countries because of the United States’ high opioid prescription rate.

Data states that individuals who are prescribed opioids are more likely to become addicted. In turn, addicted individuals are less likely to look for employment and participate in the economy.

Fortunately for a number of addicted individuals, having a strong, supportive family and positive social network can help pull them out of their addiction and guide them back into the flourishing labor force.

If you want to help your loved one end their addiction for good and live the life they were made to lead, utilize these five tips to effectively connect with them and support their next steps:

5 Tips to Help Your Loved One End Their Addiction & Reenter the Workforce

1. Talk with Your Loved One

Addiction is an extremely sensitive, complex issue. Often times, it is such an overwhelming topic that some procrastinate on initiating a conversation with an addicted loved one – or forgo a conversation altogether – just to avoid conflict and an uncomfortable situation.

When you’re dealing with a matter as serious and life-threatening as opioid addiction, there is no time to wait. You must talk with your loved one as soon as possible to understand what’s really going on. Only when you know the full story can you truly help and support your loved one’s recovery journey.

To help you have a productive conversation and work to gain the trust of your loved one on this subject, follow these seven steps:

  1. Organize your thoughts and learn as much as you can about how and why opioid addiction starts.
  2. Remove judgement and release any built-up anger before you approach your loved one and start the conversation.
  3. Choose a sober time when communication will be well-received.
  4. Talk in a safe, distraction-free setting.
  5.  Begin your conversation slow but express your love and support for your loved one immediately.
  6. Throughout the conversation, the most important thing you can do is be attentive, give your loved one the floor to talk and actively listen.
  7. Discuss next steps.

2. Encourage Individual Counseling

Addiction recovery starts when your loved one openly admits they have a problem and need help. From there, it’s vital that your loved one be able to identify the destructive thought patterns that led to and continue to fuel their addiction.

Individual therapy sessions have proved to be incredibly effective at helping opioid addicts alter distorted thoughts and behaviors while simultaneously promoting positive changes in their life.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – one of the most theoretically sound treatment methods available that seeks to help addicts fundamentally modify dysfunctional thinking and behavior while teaching life-changing skills and techniques – can help your loved one reframe negative actions, beliefs, impulses and thoughts through cognitive restructuring.

Therapy serves multiple purposes:

  • To help your loved one address their substance addiction
  • To help your loved one identify any underlying emotional issues, such as excessive depression and anxiety associated with their addiction
  • To potentially diagnose your loved one with a co-occurring disorder and ensuring they’re getting the most tailored therapy for their exact symptomatology and needs
  • To help your loved one set goals for the future and create a plan for becoming a productive member of society once again

3. Suggest Community Support Groups

Your loved one’s recovery process will only be as successful as their willingness to remove negative influences and maladaptive environments from their life. Certain people and places act as addiction triggers – anyone or anything that drives your loved one to use and abuse opioids. Only when they replace these toxic triggers with healthy, positive hobbies, activities or people will they move their life forward.

Because of this, it would be advantageous to suggest your loved one reassess their social network. In tandem with this effort, encourage your loved one to attend a community-based opioid addiction support group so they can heal alongside individuals who know exactly what they are going through and will motivate them to stay clean.

4. Help Identify Ways to Improve Physical Maintenance

A key part in the recovery process is improving one’s physical maintenance. This means focusing a substantial amount of energy on increasing physical fitness, eating healthy, getting enough sleep and taking time every day to relax the mind.

More times than not, addictions are aggravated by some form of stress and anxiety. When one gets active or spends time on a hobby for even a small portion of the day, the brain produces “feel good” chemicals, like endorphins and dopamine, that serve as mood boosters.

5. Explore Rehab Options

The wide-spread opioid addiction has become a full-blown crisis in our country and is claiming the lives of individuals at an alarming rate. Because opioids are some of the most potent, powerful substances in our society, opioid addiction treatment must be managed by medical and addiction professionals.

If your loved one is receptive, help them understand that there is real, life-changing help available by presenting viable treatment options and programs.

It’s important to note that it’s okay if your loved one is not willing to attend rehab at first. Once a few days have passed since your conversation, follow up with your loved one to see how they’re doing and if
they have made any decisions. Addiction recovery is a process, and everyone must forge their own path, as hard as that may be to us family members.

Faith-Based Opioid Addiction Treatment at Covenant Hills

By focusing on these tips and working with your loved one to address addictive behaviors, you can help them rid their life of addiction and successfully assimilate back into the workforce. In this pursuit, you may quickly realize that addiction is a relentless beast and rehabilitation is necessary.

As your loved one’s biggest advocate, we understand how imperative it is for you to help your loved one get clean, stay sober and achieve their potential. If they are ready to get help, or you are seeking insights from addiction recovery experts, Covenant Hills can help.

Learn about our gender-specific, faith-based opioid addiction treatment programs, or contact us for a free and confidential assessment.


Raphelson, Samantha. NPR. How The Opioid Crisis Is Depressing America’s Labor Force. Accessed July 1, 2018.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. July 1, 2018.