Jason Pieper sees the impact of the opioid crisis from multiple angles. He works in the Corporate Care division (health and safety on the shop floor, as well as on-site clinic operations) at Jasper Engines & Transmissions, serves on a local hospital advisory board and is a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. And while the impact numbers are daunting, he worries about the unknown.

“I don’t think enough people know about it,” he shares. “People in the community. As a company, we’re trying to educate ourselves as much as we can. My fear is the biggest problem is that we don’t know how big the problem is.”

Pieper says Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper reports a positive drug test rate of just under 2%, with that number smaller for Jasper Engines. The company tests in pre-employment situations, for reasonable suspicion and randomly. It also brings in drug dogs from time to time to “really send the message that we’re serious about this.”

When problems arise, one of the most important considerations according to Pieper, is, “You need to have a path for them to come forward. They can’t fear they’re going to lose their job if they come forward. If they get caught (without coming forward), the gig is up.” Those who acknowledge a challenge are able to receive help and sign a “last chance agreement.”

Some return to the workplace following treatment, while others relapse, Pieper says. No matter the situation, in his experience, “You can only help someone that wants to be helped.”

Asked  what he would tell employers regarding strategy if a problem is suspected, he offers:

  • Go to the substance abuse providers in the community. “They’re the experts”
  • Make sure all levels of management are on board
  • Grow a program that is clear and defined. “You have to treat people the same way every time”

Indiana Workforce Recovery is the Wellness Council of Indiana and Indiana Chamber initiative to assist employers with the drug epidemic. As part of a yearlong series, the current BizVoice® magazine looks at the story of one Indiana manufacturer, as well as what can be learned at employer strategy sessions.

Tom Schuman is the senior vice president of communications & operations for the Indiana Chamber. He is also the editor of the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice magazine and has been with the organization for 20 years.