NEW YORK — The nation’s largest employers are warning about the effects of the nation’s most-popular opioid crisis, which has seen more than 8,000 deaths and nearly 400,000 overdose deaths.
More than 2,000 companies, including the majority of big-box retailers, pharmacies and gas stations, have signed on to a new national study called Quit Now, which aims to gauge how people are responding to the crisis.
“We’re not seeing this spike in people going to the doctor for opioid prescriptions,” said James Capp, chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, which represents major retailers.
“We’re seeing the people coming in the door and just leaving.”
The National Institutes of Health funded the study, which is being run by the National Association of Convenience Stores, the American Council of Retailing, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the American Retail Federation.
The researchers surveyed 500 people at businesses across the country.
Participants were asked about their use of painkillers, their ability to control their use and how they are dealing with family and friends, Capp said.
Some of the most commonly asked questions were, “Do you use opioid painkillers?” and “Are you in pain?
If so, how much pain do you feel?”
The study also asked respondents if they had ever used an opioid painkiller.
About 70 percent said they had, and 44 percent said so about the painkiller oxycodone.
About 30 percent said that they used fentanyl or a similar drug.
The survey also asked about other factors that could affect people’s behavior, such as having a family member or friend who has died of a drug overdose.
About 10 percent of those surveyed said that family members or friends had died of opioid overdoses.
About 35 percent of the people surveyed said they did not know anyone who died of an opioid overdose.
Nearly all of the businesses surveyed said the use of opioids is increasing in their communities, while about half of the respondents said they have seen increases in the number of people using painkillers.
The National Retail Association said that in the past year, opioid prescriptions have skyrocketed in stores.
In March, there were nearly 5,500 prescriptions for opioid pain relievers, the group said.