Fighting the opioid epidemic
The United States is facing an opioid crisis and the statistics are staggering —
- 100,000 people died from a drug-related overdose1
- 10.3 million people misused prescription opioids2
- 2.1 million people were diagnosed with opioid use disorder2
Due to the stigma surrounding substance-use disorder, the disease is rarely openly discussed, leading many people to believe the epidemic does not affect their loved ones or workplace. Based on a survey conducted by the National Safety Council, 75% of employers report that opioid use has impacted their workplace,3 but only 17% report being extremely well-prepared to address the issue.4 The effects of prescription drug usage in the workplace can include absenteeism, decreased job performance, negative impact on employee morale, injury, and more.
The OAK Program
The OAK Program is a collaboration between Serve You Rx and Start Healing Now to combat the opioid epidemic and provide support to those impacted by substance use disorder, including individuals, communities, and workplaces. The three branches of the OAK Program include making Narcan accessible through our Overdose Aid Kits, providing education on the epidemic and training on how to use Narcan, and promoting the Recovery-Friendly Workplace Credo.
OVERDOSE AID KITS
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
OVERDOSE AID KITS
Overdose Aid Kits, or OAKs, are boxes that include the lifesaving drug Narcan, information on how to administer the drug in an emergency, and other information and resources for those impacted by the opioid epidemic. In June 2020, Serve You Rx worked with a nonprofit in Wisconsin to create a pilot program to make Narcan more accessible. Through that initiative, 25 boxes containing the lifesaving drug Narcan were installed in areas identified as “hot zones” due to repeated incidences of overdoses occurring in or near those locations. Serve You Rx saw a need to expand efforts outside of Wisconsin and formed a partnership with the nonprofit organization Start Healing Now to grow the initiative into what is now known as the OAK Program. Today, Serve You Rx and Start Healing Now work with governments, businesses, and more to install OAKs in their communities. The Narcan in each OAK is available for anyone to take, no questions asked, to use in an onsite emergency or to keep in their first-aid kit for future use.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
The second branch of the OAK Program is providing education and training to individuals and businesses. This includes general education about the opioid epidemic, recognizing signs and symptoms of substance-use disorder, how to recognize and treat an opioid overdose with Narcan, and the benefits of making your workplace recovery-friendly. Serve You Rx and Start Healing Now believe that Narcan should be a part of everyone’s first-aid kit, whether you are a user of opioids or not. OAK Program representatives can provide presentations and hands-on Narcan training to communities and businesses, so they are well-equipped to identify and help those in need.
RECOVERY FRIENDLY WORKPLACE
The final element of the OAK Program goes beyond education by encouraging corporate America to step up and adopt a work culture that allows people impacted by substance-use disorder to heal. The key components of a Recovery-Friendly Workplace include the following:
- Talk openly about the opioid crisis and substance-use disorder, while remembering to emphasize that recovery is possible and providing a message of hope
- Pay attention to your language and avoid the use of stigmatizing language to increase the likelihood that an employee will seek help when needed
- Be supportive of staff who are impacted by the opioid crisis
- Know the facts and aim to understand substance-use disorder, which can help reduce stigma and increases acceptance of the disorder as a medical condition from which one can recover
- Celebrate recovery as a strength
- Recognize employees dealing with substance-use disorders and recovery the same as other medical conditions, including when hiring
- Have wellness programs that promote and support employee health, work/life balance, and wellbeing to reduce stressful conditions that can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, including substance use or relapse
- Discourage malicious gossip if an employee must leave employment for a substance use-related reason and ensure an exit with dignity, if necessary
- Provide a variety of non-alcoholic options at after-work events and encourage healthy team-building activities
Read the full Recovery-Friendly Workplace Credo here.
What is Narcan?
- Is the brand-name nasal spray formulation of the drug naloxone
- Is a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose
- Is safe for all, including children, pregnant women, and pets
- Has no effect on someone who has not taken opioids
- Has no potential for abuse
- Has minimal to no side effects
- Wears off in 30-90 minutes
- Saved nearly 27,000 lives in 20205
3 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality 2018