Opioid epidemic's 'collateral damage': When a drug-free workplace doesn't exist

Opioid epidemic's 'collateral damage': When a drug-free workplace doesn't exist

December 26th, 2017 by The Tennessean in Local Regional News

Engineering Plant Manager Eric Hicks, right, talks with Processor Tony Goode on Nov. 28 about the day's productivity at the Jones Plastic & Engineering Company in Camden, Tenn.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

CAMDEN, TENN. — It is no longer difficult for Jones Plastic & Engineering Plant Manager Eric Hicks to notice when an employee develops a drug addiction. Their mood goes dark, their physical appearance declines and they are frequently absent, often after pay day.

So he asks them about it. If they open up about their drug use, another manager might fire them. But Hicks has learned to approach things differently. He tells them about treatment options and assures them their job awaits them when they get clean.

His response to drug abuse stems from concern for his 225 employees making plastic molding — but also from necessity. In rural Benton County, with a limited population and heavy drug use, terminating each offender is untenable when there is a growing company to operate.

Read more at our news partner's website, tennessean.com.

By the numbers

TN Unemployment rate
October 2017: 3 percent

TN Labor Force Participation rate
October 2017: 60.6 percent
October 1990: 63.3 percent
October 2000: 64.9 percent
October 2007: 64.1 percent

U.S. Labor Force Participation rate in November 2017: 62.7 percent

Rates of opioid prescriptions dispensed per 100 persons in 2016 by state
Alabama: 121
Arkansas: 114.6
Tennessee: 107.5

Hawaii: 41.9
New York: 42.7
California: 44.8

Highest rate by counties in Tennessee
1. Clay: 189
2. Claiborne: 189
3. Henry: 189
4. Cocke: 188
5. Fentress: 179
6. Dyer: 179
7. Sequatchie: 175
8. McNairy: 174
9. Grundy: 172
10. Scott: 170