At the onset, the opioid crisis is leaving a smaller workforce available from which small businesses can hire, which has a significant impact when the unemployment rate nationwide is below 4%. (before the Covid 19 pandemic) This smaller workforce comes in the form of people who have died related to opioid addiction in addition to the people who are currently unable to work due to their addiction. Unfortunately problems from the opioid crisis extend into the future due to the fact that pregnant women are some of the people addicted to opioids, which has many adverse effects on unborn children. Next, the opioid crisis is a major factor in the increasing costs of health insurance. Providing health insurance to employees is a challenge for businesses of all sizes, but it frequently is more burdensome on small businesses due to less resources available to devote to insurance coverage in the first place and less bargaining power with insurers.
The result of having an employee addicted to opioids is a vast array of negative consequences: absenteeism, loss of productivity, workplace behavior issues, potential legal issues, and potentially death. This means small businesses and employers have had to spend more resources on hiring & recruitment, whether because an employer is having to replace a previous employee who was addicted to opioids or measures (such as enhanced background checks) to prevent the hiring of another employee addicted to opioids. These costs come in addition to increased training costs for employees (typically managers) to be better able to identify people affected by opioid addiction. In an effort to be proactive, small businesses have developed or joined employee assistance programs (EAPs) that offer resources (such as counseling) for situations such as opioid addiction.