Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Impact of Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace

Did you know more than 70 percent of employers say they have been adversely impacted by prescription drugs, while less than 20 percent say they are extremely prepared to deal with prescription drug abuse.  These are some of the findings based on research conducted by the National safety Council. 

As I reported in my previous blog post, nearly one million people spent $50,000 or more on prescription drugs in 2016.  The National Safety Council says a whopping 75 percent of people struggling with a substance abuse problem are in the workforce.  A frightening thought!

While a large majority of companies have adopted smoke-free policies over the years, the NSC study says 81 percent lack a comprehensive drug-free workplace policy.  More than 70 percent of employers believe prescription drug "misuse" is a disease but 65 percent believe it is grounds for termination. 

Drug addicted employees, no doubt, can have an impact on an employer's bottom line.  As a matter of fact, 7 out of 10 employers say they have felt some effect of prescription drug abuse.  Incidents experienced as a result of prescription drug usage include:

  • Absenteeism 
  • Impaired or decreased job performance
  • Borrowing or selling prescription drugs on the job

Employees who abuse prescription drugs are two to five times more likely to take unexcused absences, be late for work, be injured or violent, quit or be fired within the first year of their employment. 

Although this has nothing to do with the NSC study I wanted to add some statistics from 2015 provided by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:

  • Opioid overdose deaths by whites:  27,056
  • Blacks:  2,741
  • Hispanics:  2,507
Perhaps the fact that over 90 percent of people addicted and dying from prescription drug abuse are white is why Trump is preparing to sign an executive order calling it a National Emergency.  That's what covering his base is about.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Are Opioids the New Normal?


That was the average cost nearly one million people spent on prescription drugs in 2016.  ($50,000 is more than a lot of people make in a year).  Between 2014 and 2016, the number of people with annual medication costs of $50,000 or greater increased by 35 percent.  Also in 2016,  two out of every one million Americans (total population 323.1 million) had pharmacy costs of at least $1 million.  These are some of the statistics gathered by Express Scripts in their research.

Taking prescription drugs appears to be the new normal in today's society.  Opioids, which include prescriptions painkillers and drugs like heroin and fentanyl, now kills more than one hundred Americans a day. 

On an average day in the U.S.

  • More than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed
  •  3900 people initiate non-medical use of prescription opioids
  • 580 people initiate heroin use
  • There were more than 20,000 deaths from prescription painkillers in 2015.
  • In Ohio alone, there were over 4000 deaths in 2016)
  • In 2015, more than 120 thousand young people between the ages of 12-17 were addicted to prescription painkillers. 
In all fairness, it should be noted that not everyone taking prescription drugs is or becomes addicted. There are plenty of people who take their medication as needed and when they heal from their injury or surgery, they stop taking them.  But the sad fact is more and more people are using prescription drugs illegally and there are doctors who are willing to feed their habit.

It should come as no surprise that baby boomers lead the way by accounting for nearly half of all annual pharmacy costs of $50,000 or more.  Millennials, on the other hand, account for just 10 percent of pharmacy costs.

So who's paying the cost for this new normal?  According to research by Express Scripts, Employers, insurers and government payers covered 98 percent or more of the costs for people whose prescription costs reached or exceeded $50,000 or more.  Some Employers pay a heavier price with an addicted employee through repeated absences or just not showing up for work at all.  That, of course, results in a higher turnover rate for the Company.

And let's not forget the families of those who are addicted.  Their costs are, often-times, life changing because of the emotional drama, ongoing medical expenses and even funerals to prepare for. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Baby Boomers and Millennials Differ on the Confederate Statues Removal

According to a recent survey conducted by Valient Market Research, more millennials want to see the confederate statues removed than do baby boomers.  These results are not surprising to me because I do believe millennials are more progressive thinkers while a large number of baby boomers have become more conservative and stale-minded as they age.  (Not me, of course).

As the Valient Poll reflects, 39 percent of Generation Y said they thought the statues should be removed, 30 percent said no, 20 percent were unsure and 11 percent had no opinion.  Meanwhile, 56 percent of baby boomers said they were opposed to the removal, along with 60 percent of people 72-years-old and older.

As for the breakdown within the various ethnic groups, it should come as no surprise that more than half of Blacks are in favor of the removal, compared to just 30 percent of whites.  What I did find rather shocking was the fact that 56 percent of Native Americans said they were not in favor of their removal.  That was even higher than the 49 percent of whites who said they against it.  

As a veteran journalist, I am often skeptical of many surveys because I always question whether they truly represent the MAJORITY of public opinion.  In this case, only 1000 people were surveyed online.  That certainly does not reflect the over 300 million people in the U.S. and if you only have 10 blacks taking the survey, only 6 would have to say they oppose the statue removals to make it reflect over 50 percent.  

I am a baby boomer who grew up in the Midwestern part of the United States so I never gave much thought to the whites in the South and their continued loyalty to the Confederacy.  But having lived here for more than 30 now, I have become very politically aware of the fear and hatred some Blacks feel towards the confederate flag and the statues of their so-called fallen heroes who did their best to divide the nation by seceding from the Union over the issue of slavery.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 1297 confederate statutes in the top 10 states of Virginia, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and Florida.  Meanwhile, Oregon, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota and Minnesota are the ONLY states that don't have any at all.

I really didn't have an opinion about the confederate statues until I saw the events of a Unite the Right play out in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017 that ended with the tragic death of a young woman named Heather Heyer.  While I truly believe everyone should celebrate their heritage, I also believe the neo-nazis and white supremacists have turned their misguided, warped sense of pride into a very divisive racial issue. Perhaps Washington should consider a Museum for the Confederacy but they do not deserve to be publicly displayed as an example of great leaders who fought and died for the DEMOCRACY of this nation.

Do you see anybody in Germany protesting for the right to erect neo-nazi statues in Germany?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

How Long Will You Have to Work Before You Can Retire?

The news is not looking good if you take stock in a new survey regarding retirement.  According to research conducted by GoBankingRates.Com, 1 in 5 Americans fear they may never be able to stop working because there won't be enough money to live on.  Although the survey doesn't address why these fears exist, is is safe to say lower wage-paying jobs and fewer job opportunities are having a significant impact.  What should also be duly noted here is the fact that, because of a tight job market, you may find Millennials and older adults competing for the same jobs.

Baby Boomers, between the ages of 55-64 reflect the largest group that is skeptical of being able to leave the workforce at retirement age (27 percent), followed by Generation Y (25 percent) and Millennials (20 percent).

In addition to retirement woes, those surveyed are also worried about:

1)  Living paycheck to paycheck

2)  Living in debt forever

3)  Losing their jobs

4)  Losing all of their money in the stock market

5) Never being able to afford a home

6) Always having a low credit score

When it comes to gender, more women than men fear living from paycheck to paycheck, while more men are worried they will never be able to retire.  Both men and women say their least fear is always having a low credit score.

If you break it down by region, it appears people living in the South have the greatest fears of never being able to retire and always living from paycheck to paycheck----in comparison to people in the Northeast whose biggest fear is living in debt forever.

What are some of your biggest financial fears as you age?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Donald Trump and the Deplorable Rich Misfits

When whites mistreat or stab black people in the back, it's not surprising but when they do it to each other, you have to believe the world might be coming to an end.

Donald Trump leaves everyone, except his deplorable base, shaking their heads day in and day out with the way he treats the white men he CHOSE to surround him during this debacle of a presidency.

Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus were both pushed out of their White House roles by Trump's newest pit bull, Anthony Scaramucci who has vowed his undying loyalty and commitment to the leader of the deplorables.

Now we all know, much has been said about the people who voted to put Donald Trump in the White House.  The media, and the so-called "expert" political analysts had to back track and admit they got it wrong (all but CNN's Don Lemon who, on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, did declare Trump could very well win).

I do believe Trump's victory was a surprise to him and I also believe he was fully aware of Russia's meddling and was prepared to use it AGAINST Hillary had she won instead.  I also believe there were people who weren't happy with the policies of the Obama Administration and others were simply exercising their right to be racist at the ballot box.  Those people came out in droves.  According to Pew Research, 67 percent of uneducated whites voted for Trump compared to 61 percent in 2012.  They have since become known as The Deplorables---a name Hillary referenced in talking about the behavior of his supporters at his campaign rallies  The name has since taken on a new life with thousands of people jumping on the bandwagon to identify themselves as one of them while they continue to stand by their "deplorable" president.  There was a DeploraBall as a part of the Inauguration activities and a Facebook group created to pump out all the #FAKE NEWS it can.

But here's another telling statistic according to Pew:  Trump won whites WITH a college degree by a margin of 49 to 45 percent over Clinton.  Now why is this important?  It is because too much attention has been paid to the uneducated, poor white trash who came out of the Hills and Rural America to have their voices heard.  But college educated whites were making a statement too.  They preferred Trump over Hillary for whatever reason.  But let me take it one step further.  What about the folks making $200K or more?  Not all of them are college educated.  They were the silent among us.  I call them the Deplorable Rich Misfits.  Yes, they're the dissenters who disguised themselves as someone else with their money.   They probably weren't ever polled and, if they were, they probably didn't tell the truth about who they would be voting for.  Listen, the more money people make, the more likelihood they voted for Trump especially if they are white men---and as I always believe, white women married to wealthy white men will do as they're told to hang on to the lifestyle they've become accustomed to. Another point is the fact that whites over the age of 65 preferred Trump over Hillary by a margin of 53 to 45 percent.

Surely, there are still some things that don't add up.  How could Hillary win the popular vote by nearly 3 million and lose the electoral vote?  It's happened 5 times in all (the first three all in the 1800's)--with the most recent being in 2000 when George W. Bush stole---I mean won the electoral vote, while losing the popular vote by 540,000 to Al Gore.  There was something about malfunctioning voter machines and people being turned away from the polls.

As a veteran journalist, I believe Trump won because the exit polls simply didn't do a very good job at polling and he had a lot of help from the silent majority known as the Deplorable Rich Misfits---consisting primarily of rich old white men, who are rallying around him looking for his favor.

I'm just waiting to see where the ax will fall next.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Baby Boomer Parents of Millennials Need to Stop Enabling Them

A recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates more than two million millennials between the ages of 25-34 are still living at home with their parents and 1 in 4 is doing so at the expense of the baby boomers who raised them.  They're not working or going to school---they're just kickin' it with mom and dad--and, perhaps, waiting for their big break into the world of employment.  Or perhaps they're just waiting for mom and dad to die so they can gain their inheritance.

The study also reflects the fact that most of those who work at home have a high school diploma or less and may also be adding another mouth for their parents to feed with their own child or live-in mate.

Half of those living at home are white and the majority are male. How ironic especially since the unemployment rate is 9.7 for blacks (between 25-34) and 4.2 for whites in the same age group.

"Almost 9 in 10 young people who were living in their parents' home a year ago are still living their today, making it the most stable living arrangement for young adults," the report said.  "In 2005 the majority of young people lived independently in their own household, which was the predominant living arrangement in 35 states.  By 2015---just a decade later---only six states had a majority of young people living independently.

The Census Bureau study makes no reference to the circumstances that cause millennials to live at home but one can certainly make a case for the economic challenges they face as well as the after shock of the most recent Recession.

Whatever the case may be, parents must continue to encourage their Millennial adult children to leave nest and stop enabling them so they can fly on their own.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Moms of Millennials are Worried about their Failure to Launch

With Mother's Day just around the corner, a new survey has come out suggesting being a "helicopter parent" may have back-fired.  For the record, a helicopter parent is defined as "a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children." 

Parents, who spent years hovering over every aspect of the lives of their now-grown millennials, are now seeing the results of their actions.  According to a survey of 1000 mothers, conducted by the NHP Foundation, 63 percent said they don't believe their adult children are fully prepared to live on their own.  Only 30 percent of moms said their millennial offspring who live with them are actively looking for other places to live and less than half (41 percent) say their kids pay rent.  The good news from the survey indicates 65 percent of the millennials, who still live at home with their parents, are employed.

So what's driving mom's concerns?  The survey says a whopping 90 percent are concerned about rising housing costs but only a third of the moms said they would co-sign a loan for their children and 24 percent would help subsidize rent or a mortgage.  Nearly 36 percent said they are prepared to help their adult children financially in any way.  Add to this the fact that nearly 40 percent of moms in the survey said they have no confidence that the Trump administration will make affordable housing a priority.

Although this survey expresses the fears and concerns of moms of millennials, there is another telling piece to this.  Parents of millennials must point the fingers at themselves for creating children who don't feel prepared to take on adult responsibilities.  Indiana University psychologist Chris Meno says, "When children aren't given the space to struggle through things on their own, they don't learn to problem-solve very well. They don't learn to be confident in their own abilities, and it can affect their self-esteem. The other problem with never having to struggle is that you never experience failure and can develop an overwhelming fear of failure and of disappointing others. Both the low self-confidence and the fear of failure can lead to depression or anxiety."

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, Founder of, says "Engaged parenting has many benefits for a child, such as increasing feelings of love and acceptance, building self-confidence, and providing guidance and opportunities to grow. The problem is that, once parenting becomes governed by fear and decisions based on what might happen, it is hard to keep in mind all the things kids learn when we are not right next to them or guiding each step."

Failure and challenges teach kids new skills, and, most important, teach kids that they can handle failure and challenges. 

Perhaps these moms are feeling what it's like to reap what you sow.