Create a Work Environment Where Employees Can Disclose Opioid-Related Issues

The growing opioid epidemic and its impact on employee behavior and health creates unique challenges for employers. Although no perfect response is available, now is the time for employers to rethink their drug testing and counseling programs in order to keep their employees and workplace safe. A focus on education, prevention, and counseling may help minimize the impact of opioid use in the workplace. Given the recent rise of opioid use, employers should consider encouraging employees to tell you when they have a problem or suspect that another employee may have an issue with prescription painkillers. This starts by creating a workplace environment conducive to the free exchange of information.
How can I do that? 1. Education: The key to preventing opioid addiction is educating employees on the potential harmful impacts of abusing painkillers. Set up training sessions for your employees about recognizing opioid abuse and the dangers of prescription painkillers. Addressing these issues early may help prevent a larger issue later.
2. Reconsider Zero Tolerance Drug Testing Failure Policies : An employee who loses his or her job because they fail a drug test may fall further into the depression often caused by opioid use. Unemployment may lead to more drastic outcomes for the employee, including intentional or accidental overdose. In order to avoid such a tragedy, employers should revisit their zero tolerance drug testing policy. Many employers are modifying their drug testing policy due to OSHA’s recent new rule on this topic. Effective December 1, 2016, OSHA’s new rule requires employers to drug test after a workplace accident only when you have a reasonable basis to believe that the incident or injury was likely to have been caused by the employee’s impairment, and that the drug test will determine whether the employee was impaired at the time of the incident or injury (versus a test that shows mere historical drug use). When modifying their drug testing policy, and in light of the opioid epidemic, employers should think seriously about removing any provision requiring the automatic termination of the employee after the first positive drug test. Instead, employers can amend the policy to include required counseling for employees who fail drug tests. This not only gives the employee a second chance to become “clean” and attempt to end their dependency, it also provides the employee with an opportunity to obtain much needed education and counseling on their condition. The permitted use of prescription drug use while working at the worksite must also be clearly explained in the policy.
3. Consider Enhanced Monitoring of Workers’ Compensation Claims: Many workers’ compensation carriers (and even employers) often seek to minimize the potential impact of workers’ compensation claims by finding the most inexpensive treatment option possible. Indeed, under the guise of “conservative” treatment, insurance carriers may be more inclined to pay for opioid prescriptions to “treat” an on-the-job injury versus considering more aggressive treatment options (i.e., steroid injections, surgical intervention, etc.) in the first instance (even when medical providers recommend more aggressive treatment). As such, there can be a higher incident of dependency – and increased tolerance levels in the event of a future surgery – simply in the name of reducing the financial impact of a workers’ compensation claim. Employers should monitor these trends, and even their medical providers, and evaluate the care provided to injured workers.
4. Revisit and Enhance Drug Counseling Programs: Now is the time for employers to evaluate and enhance their drug counseling programs. Does your insurance provider offer drug counseling to employees? Is there an extra cost for this service? Are employees aware of this amenity? If you become aware of an employee’s potential abuse of opioids, attempt to approach the employee in a cordial, non-confrontational manner to offer assistance with this condition. Pay special attention to employees returning to work after an injury. Consult your counsel on navigating any potential ADA or HIPAA issues. Providing employees robust counseling on opioid use and addiction may prevent further use from occurring.

Become a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist

Tennessee’s Certified Peer Recovery Specialist program provides State certification for individuals who provide direct peer-to-peer support services to others who have mental illness, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. These Peers are people who have lived experiences of a mental illness, substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorder, have made the journey from illness to wellness, and who now wish to help others with their journey.

How can I do that?

Complete the required training as part of Certification: Part One.
Complete the Certification: Part Two portion of the application using the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Handbook.
Provide at least 25 hours of direct peer to peer recovery services each year and complete 10 hours of continuing education trainings.

For all information concerning the program, please visit Tennessee’s Certified Peer Recovery Specialist website.

Host a Recovery Art Show

Addiction art is a complement to addiction science. Science analyzes and explains addiction, while art conveys the emotions and thoughts of the artist. Many recovery organizations are hosting recovery art shows to celebrate the recovery and work of their artists and fight the stigma of addiction within their community. Recovery Art may be therapeutic for the artist, but it can also raise awareness of substance use disorder and create empathy and a better understanding of the disease as well.
How can I do that?1. Read Guidelines for Organizing Art Exhibitions on Addiction and Recovery.2. Adjust their instructions to fit the needs of your community.

Start a Recovery Court

Recovery Courts are judicially-supervised evidence-based court programs designed to reduce recidivism and substance abuse among drug-involved adult offenders, decrease correctional costs, and improve public welfare in the community. Every Recovery Court follows the same model, but adjustments can be made depending on the size and needs of the community being served.  The program includes: counseling, community supervision, mandatory periodic drug testing, and incentives for meeting recovery goals.

How can I do that? 1. Read Want to Start an Adult Recovery Program?2. Follow the instructions.

Join A Celebrate Recovery Group

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step recovery program.
Celebrate Recovery is not just growing in churches, but in recovery houses, rescue missions, universities, and prisons around the world. New Mexico was the first state to adopt Celebrate Recovery into its state prison system and now has Celebrate Recovery pods in all its state prisons.
In August 2004, Celebrate Recovery was announced as California’s state-approved substance abuse program for prisons.

Celebrate Recovery is a Biblical and balanced program that helps us overcome our hurts, hang-ups, and habits. Celebrate Recovery believes in providing a place for individuals to come and face the pain in their lives. The practical principles are designed to help others find an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.

Join or Create a Prevention Group

Many high schools and colleges are requires to meet certain prevention policy requirements. Students can help by joining an already existing prevention group or collaborating with school officials to create their own. Prevention groups works to educate and spread awareness by connecting students to resources available in their community.
Once a prevention group is established faculty and students can work together to:
-Host educational/informational events
-Post informational print material
-Invite guest speakers (Lifeline Peer Project, local coalitions, ect…)
-Participate in Count It, Lock It, Drop It events
-Team with local coalitions for ideas and support
-Participate in National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week
-Participate in National Drugs and Alcohol Chat Day
-Host a film screening
-Hold Q and A seminars

These are just a few examples of what can be done around your school or college campus!

Host a Recovery Support Group

Support groups play a fundamental role on the road to recovery. Gathering with others offers encouragement, guidance and accountability Groups can be made up of individuals who are working toward the same 12-step goals, see the same therapy team, or share the same faith.
Who will be involved/ who are group leaders?
Who will be your contact person? Someone individuals can contact if interested in the group.
Are meetings open or closed? Most commonly meetings are open to the community.
Location / Time / Day. Most groups meet in the evening hours.
What will be your official launch date?
Before launching:
You may want to seek additional training.
We recommend you practice at least one session.
Advertise your group! You can do this through church and community bulletin boards or social media.
After official launch
Debrief and consider pros and cons

Tennessee Recovery Navigators

Tennessee Recovery Navigators are people in long-term recovery who can serve as an access point to treatment and recovery resources.
Navigators must maintain a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) Certification in order to use his/her lived experience to help others find recovery. Their responsibility is first and foremost to meet patients who have recently overdosed in the emergency department and connect them with the substance abuse treatment and recovery services they need.
Navigators follow-up at two different points after they interact with a patient at the hospital.
-72 hours after the hospital interaction
-30 days after the hospital interaction
The Navigator will be broadly assessing the patient’s condition and offering community and treatment support in the event that the patient is interested in additional resources beyond what they first requested in the Emergency Department.
View TDMHSAS website (listed below) to see which hospitals are currently receiving Navigator services.

Start a Collegiate Recovery Program on Your Campus

Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRPs) provide peer support and community to students in recovery on college campuses.
CPRs foster a positive collegiate experience for recovering students while providing the resources and tools for them to continue the journey into recovery.
First, find out if your campus hosts a certified collegiate recovery program. If not consider starting a CRP on your campus!
More than 150 CRPs exist or are set to launch on college campuses today because a student, faculty or staff member started the conversation!
Steps for creating a CRP:
1. Start the conversation
2. Build support
3. Raise awareness
4. Raise funds
5. Develop the program
Download the guide for students in recovery for more details.
Reach out to the Association of Recovery in Higher Education. This organization has representatives who can help you make a plan for getting started.

Become a Community Paramedic

For nearly 75 million people living in rural areas of the United States, health care needs far outnumber health care options. These communities already include disproportionate numbers of elderly citizens, immigrants, impoverished families and those in poor health.
Residents often must travel great distances—incurring great expenses—to receive even the most basic care. Or worse, they receive no care at all.
Over the past decade, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has piloted a new role, most often referred to as the Community Paramedic (CP). Community Paramedics close the gap by expanding the role of EMS personnel.
If you are interested in Community Paramedic Certification check out the links provided below.