Opioids in the Home Building Industry

An overview of the opioid crisis

Opioid addiction is our nation’s leading public health crisis, and it affects people across all socioeconomic classes, races, genders and jobs. The home building industry is no exception.

  • More than 700,000 people died as a result of a drug overdose between 1999 and 2017.
  • Around 68% of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid.
  • On average, 130 Americans die every day as a result of an opioid overdose.
  • There are close to 200 fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses in the U.S. every day. That’s eight overdoses per hour, including at least two from workers in the home building industry.

Opioid graphic.

People who work in construction are significantly more likely to become addicted to opioids, like prescription painkillers, than are workers in the general population and are six times more likely to die as a result of overdose. The impact on a business can be significant and includes loss of productivity, healthcare expenses, absenteeism, turnover and much more.

NAHB is pleased to provide a private sector slate of helpful resources and possible solutions to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic’s reach into the home building industry. These tools will complement similar efforts by federal, state and local governments and healthcare organizations.

NAHB and its partners, Job-Site Safety Institute (JSI) and the Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP), are taking an innovative approach to addressing opioid use and misuse, viewing the problem holistically and creating solutions and educational resources that address intervention points across the spectrum of prevention, treatment, recovery and return-to-work. A proactive approach to this crisis with knowledge and without stigma is critical to the health of the industry and the people who work in it.

Opioids in Louisiana

In December 2018, the Louisiana Department of Health released the recommendations of an expert panel on how to address the opioid epidemic in the state. More than 400 Louisianans died of opioid overdose in 2017, a 20 percent increase over 2016.

The recommendations call for:

  1. improving access to non-opioid treatments for pain
  2. expanding access to effective treatment
  3. establishing a quality improvement system for treatment providers
  4. treating addiction as a chronic illness
  5. expanding the use of peer recovery specialists
  6. investing in models of care that support women and families.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment for Louisiana and the opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Department of Health. “We appreciate the help of these experts and of so many in the public who have contributed their understanding and ideas to the state’s efforts.”

The expert panel includes Dr. Rochelle Dunham, the former director of behavioral health for the state; Dr. Joseph Kanter, a leading state public health official; and Dr. Sarah Hamauei, a Shreveport specialist in addiction medicine. The panel received technical assistance from Dr. Amanda Latimore and Dr. Joshua Sharfstein of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at Johns Hopkins University.

The experts found that “Louisiana has taken several important actions to address this epidemic,” including passing legislation on opioid prescriptions, establishing a standing order for naloxone, requiring education in schools, setting up syringe exchange programs and mandating continuing medical education for prescribers.