The 2017 declaration of the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency confirmed what many employers already knew — that this is a problem for more than the individuals facing addiction. It’s a problem for the entire country.
More than 30,000 people lost their lives to opiate overdoses in 2016. And according to Vox, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimates that the opioid epidemic cost the United States $504 billion in 2015.
By coming together, communities have a unique opportunity to help solve this national crisis. Here’s what employers can do.
Getting Involved in the Community
As a business owner, you have a vested interest in your community. Look for local resources that are fighting the opiate crisis. These could be community health clinics, addiction services groups, or recovery centers. Supporting food banks, community counseling providers, and child support charities can also help, as addiction can contribute to poverty and negative outcomes for children.
You can support these groups in a number of ways. Maybe you have a space to offer up for events or support group meetings. Or you can organize a volunteer day, giving employees the opportunity to pitch in and do some good works. Consider donating, too.
What Resources Are Available?
A number of nonprofits provide free materials to help prevent addiction. Some worth considering include What’s Up With Opioids?, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
People struggling with addiction are also not getting the help they need, as only 10.8 percent of people dealing with substance abuse addiction receive specialized treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association. So consider implementing a workplace rehab program through your company’s health insurance plan. These programs help struggling employees immediately get help learning how to treat opioid addiction.
Just as solving the opioid epidemic won’t happen overnight, it can’t be done by individuals acting alone. But by encouraging your employees to take advantage of the resources available — and doing so yourself — you can make a real impact.
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