1 in 10 Men Out of Labor Force; Pain and Opioid Use Often Factors, Notes Novus Medical Detox Center

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Federal data indicates 7 million prime-age men are no longer in the labor force; 2 in 5 cite pain, and nearly half use painkillers. Novus Medical Detox Center explains how employers can help reverse the trend and boost labor participation rates.

Will Wesch, Director of Admissions for Novus Medical Detox Center, advises employers on reducing the impact of out of labor work force

Many doctors and patients gravitate to opioids as a quick fix, but medication often only treats the symptom—pain—as opposed to the root cause.

Government reports reveal that over 11% of prime-age men have dropped out of the U.S. labor force,(1) and 40% of them say pain prevents them for working a full-time job.(2) Nearly half of those not in the labor force (NLF) take some type of pain medication, with a majority using prescription medication.(2) Novus Medical Detox Center, a leading Florida-based drug treatment facility, outlines steps employers can take to halt declining workforce participation rates and keep skilled prime-age Americans working.

Labor force participation among men aged 25 to 54 has steadily declined over the decades, falling from 96.7% in January 1948 to 88.6% in September 2016, which translates to roughly 7 million who are not employed and not looking for work.(1) Among them, 2 in 5 cite pain as the reason they are not working.(2) Between 44% and 47% of all prime-age NLF men admitted to taking pain medication the previous day, and nearly two-thirds of those who take medication use prescription painkillers.(2)

“The fact that 1 in 10 prime-age men has dropped out of the labor force is a huge loss for American businesses,” remarked Will Wesch, Director of Admissions for Novus Medical Detox Center. “It’s particularly concerning that so many rely on prescription opioid painkillers, even though the drugs are clearly ineffective at improving their condition to the point where they can return to work. In some cases, opioids may be to blame for labor-force dropouts, as they can exacerbate pain, compound existing problems and even lead to substance use disorders.”

Researchers have concluded that opioids prolong chronic pain,(3) and Harvard Medical School cautions that “long-term use of opioids comes with the risk of dependence, addiction, constipation, falls, confusion, slowed reaction time, slowed breathing and death.”(4) Furthermore, the American College of Physicians recently issued new guidelines calling for noninvasive and nonpharmacologic treatment of lower back pain. For patients with chronic pain, they recommend nonpharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation and other alternative treatments such as acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or spinal manipulation.(5)

“Many doctors and patients gravitate to opioids as a quick fix, but medication often only treats the symptom—pain—as opposed to the root cause,” explained Wesch. “Physical therapy, spinal manipulation and similar treatments can produce better long-term outcomes without the risks and side effects of opioids. However, many patients never even consider these alternatives, either because they’re concerned the treatments may not be covered by their health insurance or because they’re worried about getting time off work for ongoing PT or chiropractor appointments.”

Wesch encourages employers to be flexible in granting time off for healthcare appointments and to promote a better understanding of the company’s health and wellness benefits. “Consider having your HR team host lunch-and-learn sessions or publish internal communications on how to avoid injuries and effectively treat chronic pain. By giving workers the support they need to pursue effective, long-term solutions, you can increase the likelihood they’ll remain in your employ—and help them avoid the risks associated with opioid use,” he noted.

Finally, Wesch advises employers to monitor those already taking prescription painkillers for signs of opioid use disorder and to provide referrals to an accredited opiate detox or drug treatment program as appropriate. “By empowering workers to overcome chronic pain and substance use disorders, employers can help keep skilled, productive employees in the workforce and reverse the troubling trend of labor force dropouts,” he concluded.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its medically supervised drug treatment programs, visit http://www.novusdetox.com.

About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation as an inpatient medical detox facility. Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Novus provides safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs that are based on proven medical protocols and designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The facility is located on 3.25 acres in New Port Richey, Florida, in a tranquil, spa-like setting bordering protected conservation land. Intent on proving that detox doesn’t have to be painful or degrading, Novus set out to transform the industry by bringing humanity into medical detox with individually customized treatment programs and 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Today, Novus is renowned as a champion of industry standardization and a staunch advocate of patients fighting to overcome substance use disorders. Frequently recognized for its contributions to the industry and local community, Novus has become a regular source to media publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has ranked in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50, the Florida Business Journal’s Top 500 and the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more information on Novus’ medically supervised detox programs, visit http://novusdetox.com.

1.    Editorial Board. “Millions of Men Are Missing From the Job Market”; The New York Times; October 16, 2016. nytimes.com/2016/10/17/opinion/millions-of-men-are-missing-from-the-job-market.html

2.    Krueger, Alan B. Where Have All the Workers Gone?; October 4, 2016; pages 21-22. bostonfed.org/-/media/Documents/economic/conf/great-recovery-2016/Alan-B-Krueger.pdf

3.    Grace, Peter M.; Keith A. Strand; et al. “Morphine Paradoxically Prolongs Neuropathic Pain in Rats by Amplifying Spinal NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation”; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; June 14, 2016. pnas.org/content/113/24/E3441.abstract

4.    Harvard Health Publications. “The Downside of Taking Pills to Treat Chronic Pain”; Harvard Health Letter; March 1, 2017. health.harvard.edu/pain/the-downside-of-taking-pills-to-treat-chronic-pain

5.    Qaseem, Amir; Timothy J. Wilt; et al. “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians”; Annals of Internal Medicine; February 14, 2017. annals.org/aim/article/2603228/noninvasive-treatments-acute-subacute-chronic-low-back-pain-clinical-practice

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