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Chamber, Wellness Council Team With Governor to Assist Employers in Battling Opioid Epidemic

2018-02-09T13:23:39+00:00February 9th, 2018|

It’s official! The Indiana Chamber and Wellness Council of Indiana are joining forces with Gov. Eric Holcomb and his administration in its effort to combat the opioid epidemic. Today’s announcement: the Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative.

The impact of drug abuse on Hoosiers, families and communities has been well documented. Those negative consequences of individual addiction have spread to the workplace, damaging Indiana’s economy.

“The workplace has long been a provider of the resources and support that help Hoosiers enhance their quality of life,” says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “Today, employers can and need to be part of the solution to this epidemic. By bringing together the required resources, our goal is to help deliver the information and training to help them do just that.”

The Indiana University Kelley School of Business places the economic impact of opioid misuse at $1.5 billion per year. National researchers identify 58% of those suffering from drug addiction as being in the workforce.

Governor Eric Holcomb has made attacking the drug epidemic one of the five pillars of his agenda, starting with his first day in office 13 months ago.

“The effects of Indiana’s opioid epidemic are far-reaching and devastating to individual Hoosiers, families, communities and our economy,” Gov. Holcomb said. “It will take all of us working together to slow down and reverse this addiction crisis. I commend the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Wellness Council of Indiana for joining forces to launch this new initiative that will help our state’s employers, who are directly impacted by the opioid epidemic.”

The Wellness Council of Indiana, part of the Indiana Chamber since 2011, is dedicated to worksite wellness and community well-being. Jennifer Pferrer, executive director, has extensive experience in areas of health care and disease management. She will lead the combined effort of the two organizations.

“Employers want to help – not just for their own benefit, but for their associates and their families,” Pferrer explains. “There is no playbook, however, for dealing with this deadly addiction. We’ll convene the conversations, communicate the best practices for employers and provide training on implementation. We’ll focus on the important ingredient of reducing the stigma of drug abuse, instead setting the stage for re-engagement in the workforce.”

Specific Indiana Workforce Recovery programs will be unveiled as they are developed. They will focus on educating and guiding employers to:

  • offer health benefits that provide coverage for substance abuse disorders;
  • expand drug testing to include prescription drugs;
  • provide effective employee assistance, wellness and work-life programs that include information and services related to substances abuse prevention, treatment and return to work issues; and
  • train managers to recognize and respond to substance abuse issues.

A fact sheet highlighting the impact of prescription opioid abuse in the workplace is available at www.indianachamber.com/opioids.

Battling the opioid epidemic is one of the priorities of Gov. Holcomb’s administration. He created the commission, which meets quarterly, and appointed Jim McClelland as the state first executive director of drug prevention, treatment and enforcement. Learn more about Next Level Recovery at www.in.gov/recovery.