Coping with Connecticut’s opioid crisis in the workplace

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — Getting the job done at work is something everyone strives to accomplish. But now, employers are seeking ways to get the job done handling the opioid crisis. That was the goal of a meeting in Middletown hosted by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

“The Opioid Crisis and Connecticut’s Workforce Symposium” brought together leaders from the business, labor, insurance and medical communities.

“This event is so important because people are assuming that the opioid epidemic is playing out in the streets or in some back room and what we’ve learned is the opioid epidemic is playing out in the workplace, and employers are either unaware of it or don’t know what to do with employees with addiction disorders,” said Holly Hinds, who helped to organize the symposium.

One goal of the symposium is to help employers recognize symptoms of someone who might be addicted to prescription painkillers.

“It’s very scary,” said Kurt Treiber, Risk Manager for the town of Wallingford. “Because you don’t know who is on an opioid — if they’re disclosing it or they’re getting it in a manner that may be illegal.”

“We want to make sure that folks understand what it is — the risks associated with the epidemic and how they can prevent these overdoses and what they can do if, God forbid, someone actually does overdose on a job site,” said  State Rep. Sean Scanlon, who represents Guilford and Branford.

Rep. Scanlon also told the audience Connecticut state lawmakers are committed to fighting the opioid crisis.

“We’re limiting the number of prescriptions that have come out,” he said. “We’re making sure every first responder has access to life-saving overdose drugs like Narcan. And we’re trying to educate people about the dangers of using and misusing prescription drugs.”

How serious is the opioid crisis in Connecticut? The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner recently reported an average of 3 Connecticut residents are dying everyday from accidental drug intoxication.

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