OPM has told agencies that they “have an important role in fighting” the opioid abuse epidemic, saying that “the first step is to ensure all federal employees are aware of the resources available and what they can do to help prevent opioid abuse.”

OPM provided a fact sheet that it asked agencies to widely distribute in their workplaces saying that addiction “often begins with the misuse of prescription medications, and nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid;” it recommends exploring alternative pain medicine prescriptions, safe use of those that are prescribed, and how employees can get help when needed. “Your EAP administrators, benefits officers, and health unit personnel can also help amplify this message through on-going communication with employees,” it added.

The fact sheet stresses that EAP programs are “free, voluntary, and confidential. Services include employee education, supervisory training, and short term counseling to help address personal or workplace issues stemming from substance abuse. When short term counseling is not enough, EAP can provide referrals for ongoing care.”

Further, “employees and families can also access mental health services and addiction treatment through their Federal Employees Health Benefits program insurance plans. FEHB insurance plans cover in¬¨patient and out-patient mental health care along with substance abuse treatment,” it says.