Thursday, May 30

Abuse of Prescription Stimulants Is a Growing Concern in the American Workplace

Anyone working in an office environment knows that productivity is always the top priority, regardless of how it’s measured. The problem, as many American workers will vouch for, is that meeting the productivity goal often isn’t enough; the prevalence of mobile devices like smartphones and laptops allow the workplace to infiltrate the home environment so much that employees are often expected to go above and beyond the basic goals.

For many young adults, habits are developed early in life, during high school and college, in order to produce results for a system that measures success in terms of grades. As a recent New York Times article has noted, this time period is often when young people develop dependencies on stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse, and Concerta.

These highly controlled prescription drugs are intended for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but it’s simple enough for anyone without the condition to do some prior research on the symptoms before visiting a doctor’s office.

The real problem, the Times notes, is that this habit has become common and acceptable, especially for young adults who developed it during school. When faced with impossible productivity goals in the professional office environment, these young adults seek out prescription stimulants again — even though the drugs can bring an onslaught of negative side effects, including hallucinations, profuse sweating, and increased stress and anxiety.

It’s no coincidence that a 2013 report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the number of stimulant-related ER visits tripled from 2005 to 2011. Or that the number of American adults taking prescription medication for ADHD increased by 53% between 2008 and 2012.

Even though new technology is supposed to make our jobs easier, the unintended result is that it’s nearly impossible to keep a nine-to-five job within the hours of 9 am and 5 pm.

“Today’s employment reality often means long commutes and regular travel as a necessity for employees in order to achieve their professional and financial goals,” said Linda Grund, Center Manager for STAT Office Solutions. “This creates an ongoing tug of war between work life and home life, increasing stress, expenses and reducing overall satisfaction.”

Nevertheless, it’s possible to use technology in the workplace without allowing it to become too invasive. Ironically, many studies have shown that employees who telecommute are actually physically healthier, more creative, more productive, and save their employer more money compared to employees who are required to work in an office.

“This flexibility enhances the opportunity to use the excess time and resources in a manner of personal choosing. These factors contribute to happier employees and can create significant savings for their companies as well,” said Grund.

Adapting to technology in the workplace certainly isn’t as easy as it may seem, and countless Americans have already figured that out. But when the health of so many workers is at risk, it’s impossible to continue ignoring the problem.

“For the employer, this can translate into increased absenteeism, diminished productivity and loss of valued workers,” explained Grund. “The flexibility to work virtually means less time commuting and less money spent on things such as clothing, vehicle expenses, and food.”

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