Last November, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released his office's first-ever report on opioids and addiction, which included tools and recommendations collected from more than a year of research. The Center for Disease Control and prevention also released prescribing guidelines after thorough study.
More than 20 million people in America have substance abuse problems; 78 die every day from opioids alone.
The Surgeon General report, is about substance abuse broadly — both alcohol and drugs, legal and illegal. But it’s the opioid epidemic that has grabbed public attention.
In February, Governor Chris Christie signed into law one of the nation’s most comprehensive laws to combat the growing opioid and heroin crisis. The law mandates in-state insurers offer 180 days of coverage without preauthorization.
Last week, President Trump tapped Christie to head a high-level opioids commission to help address the problem nationally.
“We’re starting to treat substance abuse like the chronic disease that it is,” says John Sarno, president of the Employers Association of New Jersey, who has been following the issue for the last several years.
Sarno says that he hears frequently from employers about how to help employees who are substance abusers.
“Often, their first reaction is not to fire someone. The first reaction is often ‘how can we help?’”
For years, the employers’ group would help employers make referrals to professionals who could help treat employees with substance abuse problems or in need of behavioral healthcare.
But after a year of research, Sarno says the time is right to offer an Employee Assistance Program for Association members.
Managed by Preferred Behavioral Health Group, EANJ members will be able to offer affordable, comprehensive, statewide assistance to employees and family members.
Also, an entire series of management consulting and supervisory training is provided onsite to ensure proper guidance and management of the situation.
“For us, it’s the next step to fostering healthy, secure and productive workplaces,” says Sarno.
There are 31,000 subscribers in EANJ’s healthcare trust and its retirement savings trust has exceeded $3 million under management.
Sarno says that the EAP will be officially launched at the group’s Annual Meeting on May 24th.