The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the opioid crisis, leading to heightened awareness of the impact it is having nationwide, as well as on highly susceptible industries such as construction. In 2017, the National Safety Council reported 15 percent of construction workers face struggles with substance abuse.
Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. has seen an increase in opioid-related mortality, according to the American Medical Association, and the pandemic's persistent presence is anticipated to have lasting impacts on the opioid crisis for the foreseeable future. In addition to financial struggles, the mandates that enforce social distancing and precautionary quarantine procedures have shown to have effects on mental health. People with previous substance addictions have a higher likelihood of increasing opioid intake leading to the increased amount of overdoses, finds a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
With the opioid crisis reaching epidemic proportions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the AmerisourceBergen Foundation and iHeartMedia chose to partner together to create the platform, Sharing Solutions: A Virtual Nationwide Tour. The campaign shares innovative workforce solutions while supporting businesses in their fight against substance misuse.
“Today, the fight against the opioid epidemic collides with our battle against COVID-19, exacerbating the devastation already felt by communities across the nation,” said Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “By launching this virtual national tour and tapping into the reach and expertise of our partner iHeartMedia, we hope to arm employers — and communities in every corner of the country — with the right tools and resources so they are prepared and empowered to address the double impact of COVID-19 and a resurgent opioid crisis.”
The campaign, Sharing Solutions, began as an online resource hub, designed to address the crisis by requiring business entities to share information, utilize resources and take an active stance in fighting the opioid epidemic, an initiative that has been ongoing since March 2019.
The virtual tour of 2021 began on January 19 and will continue across the nation. It will include conversations with leading experts and key public figures, and features Leidos CEO Roger Krone and Nationwide Foundation President Chad Jester. The Florida program, aired on February 11, will be moderated by recovering former NFL Player Randy Grimes and other musical artists.
The events in the Sharing Solutions tour will be free and open to the public.