Opioid and drug misuse or abuse affects every Arkansas workplace, including medical practices, clinics and other health facilities. Misuse creates daily challenges for employers and it disrupts the lives of employees and their families.

At least 75% of all employers have already had an issue with opioids in the workplace. Most (95%) of opioid overdoses occur in working age adults. Human resources managers report the effects of drug misuse in terms of   increased absenteeism, safety problems and lower productivity.

The opioid misuse epidemic is one of the most serious and far-reaching threats to our economy. Arkansas’ economy is tied for the state economy most damaged by the opioid crisis. From 1999 to 2015, Arkansas lost $33.5 billion in real economic output from lost productivity. This epidemic has taken 43,400 workers out of Arkansas’ workforce between 1999 and 2015, causing the loss of 574 million work hours.

More than ever, employers are challenged to find a ready, drug-free workforce. Do you have the answers to substance misuse in the workplace questions? Do you know how to handle a situation if an employee confesses or is found to be misusing harmful substances? What about an employee that has a family member struggling with substance-use disorder? Is your business poised to offer a “second chance” to those in recovery? This employee health crisis is too big to go it alone. It will take all of us to find solutions and a way forward.

Together Arkansas, a coalition of Arkansas health and business leaders, offers employers a toolkit of resources they can use, free of charge. This opioid response initiative can help any workplace prepare, prevent and respond to this crisis. This nationally-developed course consisting of five sections. The easy-to-use training modules provide an overview of the legal and operational issues employers must consider. The tools are designed to help employers, especially small to medium-sized businesses, develop a legal drug-free workplace program that is unique to your needs and workplace culture.

You may view one or all of the 13- to 16-minute modules, depending on your individual needs. These videos will assist employers and managers to help existing employees who are dealing with their own drug-related issues or those of someone they care about. Additionally, a list of Arkansas and national   substance abuse and mental health resources are included, along with a list of contact information for community resources in each Arkansas county. Visit togetherarkansas.com to download free resources.

 The five modules provide information to help you:

  • Assess the impact of drug misuse in your practice or clinic
  • Learn what is legally sound in a drug-free workplace program — what you’re allowed, and not allowed, to do
  • Develop a policy that works for your practice and workplace culture — learn about best practices
  • Learn how, when and why to drug test
  • Learn how to implement and sustain a drug-free workplace program and what it can and cannot include

As a physician, you know that healthy employees can improve outcomes for all your patients. As a business owner you can and should help your employees break the bonds of addiction, get and stay healthy, and return to a stable, productive life. Learn how to prepare, prevent and respond today.

This employee health crisis is too big to go it alone. It will take all of us to find solutions and a way forward. Our coalition, Together Arkansas, can help. Learn how today!

Together Arkansas is a joint project of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.