EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and PennDOT joined the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) on Tuesday to discuss substance use disorders in the construction industry.

The groups also discussed the importance of education and prevention for employees in the industry and reminded them of all the resources available that can help.

“While not often discussed, studies have shown that, when compared to other occupations, employees in the construction field have high rates of overdose deaths,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “The risk of on-the-job injury remedied with an opioid prescription increases the chances for those in this field to develop opioid use disorder. We must ensure that employers and employees know about every resource available to them to support individuals suffering from substance use disorder.”

A recent study done by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), addressing the opioid overdoes epidemic in the construction industry, showed that construction workers prescribed opioids for pain had a higher risk for long-term use. As well as, a higher chance of developing an opioid use disorder (OUD).

The CDC says, annually, 15 percent of construction workers who were prescribed opioids become long-term users and were nearly 10 times as likely to develop an OUD.

“The importance of employee safety and well-being cannot be overstated,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We need to ensure that we are prioritizing both our employees’ physical and mental health and creating a safe work environment in an effort to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.”

The Wolf Administration developed the Just Five Initiative, which is a self-paced program designed to increase awareness, reduce the stigma, and provide education about substance use disorder prevention and treatment. It is made up of six short education modules that each take ‘just five,’ minutes to complete. The modules include:

  • The science of addiction
  • Are you at risk?
  • The dangers of opioids
  • Signs, symptoms and treatment
  • How you can help
  • The gift of recovery

“Our members are committed to having safe workplaces and healthy and productive employees,” said Robert Latham, Executive Vice President of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors.

DDAP operates the Get Help Now hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The hotline is a trusted resource for individuals and/or their loved ones if substance use disorder treatment or resources are needed. The hotline is confidential, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and staffed by trained professionals who will connect callers to resources in their community. Callers can also be connected with funding if they need help paying for treatment.

To learn more about the Wolf Administration’s efforts in combating the addiction crisis, visit the DDAP website.