Worcester, Mass. – April 12 – Spectrum Health Systems Inc., a longtime nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people overcome alcohol and other drug addictions was co-sponsor of the Worcester Business Journal’s recent Opioid Crisis Forum attended by area employers on March 29, 2017.
The event’s keynote speaker was the Commonwealth’s Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS), Allison F. Bauer, who noted that the national opioid epidemic costs U.S. businesses $18 billion in absenteeism.
“We have a workforce problem,” said Bauer, noting that there is hope through various support systems, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). “Employers have to be flexible. They must understand addiction and what is required in recovery.”
An expert panel, including Spectrum’s CEO Kurt Isaacson, discussed the role employers play in the lives of those seeking treatment and how employers can prepare and address the epidemic’s impact in the workplace. Isaacson underscored the importance of employers investing in their workforce, including those battling an addiction.
“There are high-quality, high-performing employees who have had an addiction and received treatment,” said Isaacson, noting employers must understand that addiction is “treatable.” What’s more, the CEO reminded employers to consider the investment they’ve already made in hiring and training their employees and the benefit of retaining them.
Other panelists included Dr. B. Steven Bentson, Chief Medical Officer at Beacon Health Options; Dr. Amy Harrington, Medical Director of Addiction Continuum at Community Healthlink; and Maryellen O’Brien, Director of Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at Reliant Medical Group.
The stigma of addiction as a barrier to treatment was a common theme throughout the forum, bringing to light the struggle people face when deciding if, when and how to talk to their employers about their addiction and get the help they need. The panelists also discussed warning signs to watch for so that employers can recognize the problem earlier and help develop a plan with their employee.
“[Employers] need to leave bias at the door,” said Spectrum COO Ellis during her welcome address, noting how this leads to a better understanding of what an employee is going through and opens the door to treatment.
About Spectrum Health Systems:
Based in Worcester, Mass. and founded in 1969, Spectrum Health Systems, Inc. is a private, nonprofit substance abuse and mental health treatment provider. Spectrum offers the largest and most complete continuum of addiction treatment in New England -- including inpatient detoxification, residential rehabilitation, outpatient services, medication-assisted treatment and peer recovery support. For more information, please visit www.spectrumhealthsystems.org.