workers walking through warehouse

Invest in Prevention: Why Your Workplace Wellness Plan Should Include At-Home Drug Disposal  

HR expert explains how a drug deactivation and disposal campaign can help save lives and reduce business costs

By: Allison Brown, CHRS, co-founder of workforce healthcare consultancy Health e(fx

Substance abuse rates have risen exponentially in recent years, and this can have a serious impact on the well-being of your workforce and your bottom line.

According to preliminary CDC data, U.S. drug overdose deaths hit a record high last year. Nearly 108,000 Americans died from overdoses in 2021 – a 15% increase from the previous record set in 2020.

The National Safety Council reports that one in 12 U.S. workers is dealing with an untreated substance use disorder, which can cost employers a staggering amount in lost productivity, absenteeism, disability claims and healthcare costs associated with drug abuse. Unfortunately, drug dependence often starts in the home medicine cabinet: nearly 80% of heroin users report misusing prescription opioids prior to heroin.

The employer’s role is critical in creating awareness about substance misuse and supporting prevention and recovery activities for workers. To reduce the burden to your business and protect your workforce, take a proactive approach to prevention by educating employees on the importance of proper medication disposal and providing them with a safe, simple way to dispose of unused medication at home.

Making the Deterra® Drug Deactivation and Disposal System available to workers is a cost-effective way to prevent medication misuse before it starts. A University of Michigan study published in JAMA Surgery found that patients prescribed opioids following surgery were 3.8 times more likely to dispose of their unneeded medication when provided with Deterra than those who weren’t given disposal education or support.

Making a Difference with Drug Disposal

Organizations across the country distribute Deterra Pouches to reduce the risk of prescription drug misuse and raise awareness about the role of proper disposal in combatting substance abuse. Many of these organizations, like Ohio’s Community for New Direction, take advantage of Deterra’s Value Added Services to create custom labels for the pouches with the organization’s logo, hotline numbers and links to online resources.

In Texas, the University of Houston College of Pharmacy’s PREMIER Center implemented a statewide drug disposal campaign. The PREMIER Center worked with Deterra to create custom postcards with survey questions and a QR code to collect user data and measure the impact of the distribution program.

These services can help your business brand its campaign and guide workers to other prevention resources, as well as collect survey responses that can help you measure the impact of your efforts and guide future prevention initiatives. This cost savings calculator illustrates how an investment in at-home disposal can help reduce the costs associated with drug misuse.

Deterra Resource Cards

Custom labels and resource cards with instructions, survey questions or a QR code linked to an online survey can be added to the Deterra Pouch as part of your drug deactivation campaign.

Protect Your Employees and Your Business

Now is a pivotal time to support your workforce and make employee wellness and prevention a focus of your workplace culture. Helping your employees gain access to at-home prevention resources like Deterra is one crucial way to become part of the solution.  


headshot of Allison Brown

About the Author

Allison Brown, CHRS, is cofounder and Principal at Health e(fx), a leader in healthcare reform solutions for employers, brokers and benefits administrators. Listed by Employee Benefit Adviser as one of 2016’s 25 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising, Allison is a recognized healthcare reform expert and HR thought leader. In addition to 25 years of leadership expertise in human resources, employee health benefits, and compliance, Allison has been a member of numerous governmental associations and is involved in the ongoing review of legislative processes and federal agency guidance. She serves on the Advisory Council for Deterra® System. 

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