At Seafood Sam’s, a family-friendly restaurant in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, one in five employees is in recovery from an opioid use disorder. In fact, business president Michael Lewis has struggled with addiction himself — and realizes the importance of creating an environment that affords his staff flexibility for their recovery and trains them to identify signs of relapse. Examples like Seafood Sam’s are part of an emerging understanding that the workplace can be a valuable site for combating the opioid epidemic.
A helping hand: “This is very much a workplace issue — not just a problem on the street corner but within our four walls,” says David Barash, executive director of the GE Foundation and a board member at RIZE Massachusetts, a nonprofit devoted to reducing the stigma around opioid use disorder that is supported in part by funding from the GE Foundation. Two recent RIZE reports offer startling statistics on the consequences of addiction and methods to offer assistance and reduce stigma. Because 55 percent of people with opioid use disorder are employed full-time, employer efforts to undermine the epidemic by supporting their employees could have a tremendous effect.
Read more about Massachusetts’ efforts to fight the opioid crisis here.