Building Communities Cassie Hodges  | October 16, 2017

Opioids are Wreaking Havoc on America. The Business Community is Fighting Back

The opioid abuse is now the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., crippling families, communities and industries across the country. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is marshaling the business community in an effort to turn back the tide.

The growing contagion is “ripping apart families and destroying lives,” said Carolyn Cawley, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “The business community must play a role in solving the crisis.

The Chamber Foundation is joining the Prescription Drug Safety Network, which will provide high schools in the most affected areas with a digital prevention education platform at no costs The Chamber made the announcement today while hosting a forum with business leaders, highlighting how substance use is impacting the business community and how a collective effort is needed to address the opioid crisis.

Drug-overdose deaths, with opioids a main driver, have tripled since 2000, quickly becoming the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50. In 2016 alone, overdoses killed more than 50,000 Americans, more than any other year on record, and more than have ever died from car crashes or gun violence in a single year, according to the CDC.

And the bleeding hasn’t stopped there. The national opioid contagion has been a major cost for the U.S. economy, with drug abuse in the workforce now costing employers upwards of $78.5 billion a year in the form of healthcare, lost earnings and employment says the CDC. Approximately two-thirds of those who report misusing pain-relievers are still on the payroll, working in factories and offices around the country, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, representing hidden and insidious threats for workplace safety and productivity.

The costs to human life and national productivity are exactly why the business community has the imperative to lead the way, according to Cawley.

“The personal costs are devastating. The economic toll is staggering. And those costs will only grow until all the stakeholders join together to stop the insidious disease of addiction in its tracks,” she said.

Join the U.S. Chamber in Promoting the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 28 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications. For more information and to learn how to get involved, visit the DEA Diversion website