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April 25, 2018

McConnell's bill takes aim at ravages of opioid epidemic on the workforce

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday morning that he's introducing legislation that targets the opioid epidemic and its devastating impact on American workers and businesses.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented legislation to battle the ravages the opioid crisis has had on the workforce in Kentucky and other states. (McConnell office file photo)U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented legislation to battle the ravages the opioid crisis has had on the workforce in Kentucky and other states. (McConnell office file photo)

The bill, the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry (CAREER) Act, would encourage businesses and treatment organizations to partner to assist workers in recovery to find and keep jobs.

 

Specifically, the legislation pushes for expanded transitional housing options for recovering addicts and allows states more flexibility to spend federal workforce and training funds to support those moving from treatment to the workforce, according to a statement from McConnell's office. 

“Our nation’s opioid and substance abuse epidemic continues to plague communities and families in my home state of Kentucky and across the nation,” said McConnell, a Republican from Louisville.

"Stable employment is not just a path to financial security for workers and families. Earning a paycheck from a job is also linked to personal happiness and even physical health. We see firsthand in Kentucky the need for the structure and support that come with a job to help keep people who have battled addiction in their past from falling back into the cycle of drug abuse," he said, adding that "unfortunately, in the very communities where employment could do so much good, the opioid crisis itself is making it harder to attain.”

Employers in Kentucky have told McConnell that substance abuse is a "major hurdle" in maintaining a full workforce. One study estimated that about a quarter of the decline in workforce participation between 1999 and 2015 could be traced "to aspects of the opioid crisis," which translates to about 1 million workers. The Trump administration recently reported that the epidemic cost the economy half a trillion dollars in 2015, McConnell's office said. 

Nearly 70 percent of 22 million Americans age 18 and older who use illicit drugs work full-time and part-time jobs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.

In Louisville, the proportion of local workers testing positive for drugs exceeds the national average by 15 percent, with nearly 5 percent of them testing positive, according to data compiled by Quest Diagnostics, one of the world's largest employment drug testing companies.

The problem employers in the region face in finding drug-free workers was the focus of a Courier Journal story last September.

Quest's analysis also showed that drug use among employees in the Louisville region has steadily increased over the past five years. Marijuana was found to be the most prevalent illicit drug detected in Louisville's general workforce, but positive tests for heroin were 150 percent higher than the national average in both 2015 and 2016, the latest year for which data was available.

Workers in the region also showed increase use of amphetamines, cocaine and opiates grew between 2012 and 2016, according to Quest.

Anthony Zipple, chief of the treatment network Centerstone Kentucky, said McConnell's bill is a step in the right direction. It "would enhance the ability of front line providers to effectively deploy resources to tackle this epidemic within our communities,” he said. 

 

Comments  

+2 #2 Confused 2018-04-28 14:31
Quoting Oh NO:
Another train wreck.

? Putting people back to work after they start recovery from addiction is a bad thing in your mind? Can you explain that thought process please?
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+2 #1 Oh NO 2018-04-25 17:29
Another train wreck.
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