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Addiction Center At Boston Medical Unveils New Tool To Help Employers Struggling In The Opioid Epidemic

Morphine Sulfate, OxyContin and Opana are displayed for a photograph in Carmichael, California, on Jan. 18, 2013. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Morphine Sulfate, OxyContin and Opana are displayed for a photograph in Carmichael, California, on Jan. 18, 2013. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

The Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center is launching an online resource library for employers to help their employees who are affected by the opioid epidemic.

The library includes guidance about how to approach and support employees with an addiction, advice for coworkers or family members, and information about which drug and addiction treatments insurance plans should cover.

Michael Botticelli, who runs the Grayken Center at Boston Medical, says fear of an employer's response is one key reason workers don't seek care.

"We know that employers have a considerable role to play in not only providing good care but also creating a climate where employees feel freer to ask for help," he said.

Some 22 million Americans are struggling with a substance use disorder in the United States, according to CDC estimates. In Massachusetts, the state Department of Public Health indicates opioid use in particular has had a significant impact on workplaces, especially in industries with high rates of work-related injuries.

Construction workers have some of the highest rates of opioid overdose death rates in the state.

Shaun Carvalho, the safety director for Shawmut Design & Construction, says rates are so high because of the physical demands of the job, so his company has "mobilized a cross-functional team to enlist the proper resources to safeguard our employees and partners, and establish support systems for anyone affected by a substance use disorder." He spoke about how addressing the opioid crisis has affected employees at a Boston Chamber of Commerce event on Wednesday morning.

The online library includes more than 25 downloadable documents. Employers will be able to modify the online resources and templates for their own use.

Botticelli hopes the library will help employers to "take action, support and encourage their employees struggling with substance use disorders personally or within their family.”

With reporting by WBUR's Martha Bebinger

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