A study recently published in JAMA Psychiatry reveals that typical heroin users today actually belong to the middle class.
White, middle class suburban dwellers
According to a report by Amy Norton for HealthDay via WebMD, most heroin users today are white, middle class suburban dwellers in their early 20s, and that many of them started out as prescription drug abusers.
Theodore Cicero, professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and the study’s lead researcher, says the shift to heroin happened over the last five years, and that heroin abuse actually migrated to the suburbs.
Dr. Cicero added that the abuse of oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and other prescription narcotics is somehow linked to the shift to heroin use, as those who get addicted to the legal narcotics end up not being able to afford them anymore and shifting to the much cheaper heroin would be a logical step.
The risk of having heroin users in the workplace
Considering that many members of the middle class are holding white-collar jobs, the study’s findings should be a wake-up call for many HR executives. If you’re an employer or an HR manager with a white-collar workforce, think again about the likelihood that some of your staff may be using illicit drugs. And if you don’t have an on-site drug testing program yet, perhaps it’s time for you to put one in place.
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