A new public health campaign launched in Arkansas is taking aim at opioid abuse in the workplace.

Together Arkansas is a coalition made up of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and AFMC, a quality improvement organization for the health care industry. The campaign provides employers across the state with online resources to help them instruct employees about the impact of opioids in the workplace.

Opioid abuse was to blame for taking more than 43,000 workers out of Arkansas’s labor force within a period from 1999 to 2015. It also cost the state $33 billion in economic losses during that 16-year period.

“In 2017, we saw a death every other day from opioids in Arkansas,” Alison Melson, Arkansas’ Blue Cross and Blue Shield vice president of marketing told KATV.

The Together Arkansas program is designed to break the stigma of opioid addiction, an epidemic that affects every demographic and economic group in the country.

“The toolkit includes everything from how to write up policies and procedures, drug testing policies and then where to refer your employees if they do in fact have an addiction to opioids,” Melson said. “We need our employees to be healthy at work and then we want them and their families to be healthy in the New Year.”

Hundreds of states, counties and cities across the country have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies holding them accountable for creating and fueling a national opioid epidemic that has cost tens of thousands of lives due to overdose and billions of dollars in economic damages.

Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are investigating cases of serious injuries and illness – including addiction and overdose – related to opioid use and abuse, as well as cases of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in babies born to mothers addicted to opioids. For more information, contact Melissa Prickett or Liz Eiland.

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