The National Safety Council (NSC), in partnership with more than 50 organizations and companies nationwide, released a comprehensive, inclusive strategy to address opioid misuse that all presidential candidates – regardless of party – should either adopt in full or use to close gaps in existing plans and policies. The National Plan to Address Opioid Misuse lays out actions that must be taken to effectively confront each stage of the addiction life cycle, from prevention to recovery.

NSC analyzed every candidate’s opioid plan to identify strengths and areas for improvement. The analysis revealed all candidates’ plans include some critical directives, including increasing access to medication-assisted treatments and increasing prescriber education. However, none address employers’ roles and responsibilities, nor do plans call for expanded data collection to help understand the scope and complexity of the overdose crisis more clearly. Similarly, only two plans include a description of prevention efforts the candidate would implement should he or she be elected.

The role of law enforcement and first responders, and the expanded use of specialty courts that prioritize treatment over incarceration, also appear to be overlooked elements in many candidates’ plans.

“Opioid overdoses are a public health crisis, and all presidential candidates should be giving it the attention it deserves,” said Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO. “Unfortunately, to date, opioid misuse has not been a significant element of the election cycle dialogue, and it needs to be. NSC and our partners urge everyone vying for the nation’s highest office to examine their plans or adopt the National Plan in full, so we can save lives and end these preventable deaths.”

For the first time in U.S. history, a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than a car crash. Drug overdose – primarily from opioids – is the leading cause of preventable death for American adults. Despite a small decrease in the number of opioid overdose deaths in 2018, an estimated 130 people still die each day.

Employers are a glaring omission in each candidate’s opioid strategy. Seventy-five percent of employers have been directly impacted by employee opioid misuse, according to NSC surveys. However, only 17% feel extremely prepared to deal with the situation. Employers are in a unique position to affect change, because they often can spot signs and symptoms of misuse early. While presidential actions do not necessarily dictate policies at private companies or organizations, a call to action from the world’s largest pulpit – the U.S. presidency – can influence change.

In the National Plan to Address Opioid Misuse, employers are urged to create return-to-work policies during and following treatment, accommodate employees who are prescribed opioids and stock naloxone in workplace first aid kits, among other actions.

Other critical recommendations missing from several candidates’ platforms include:

  • Requiring prescribers to use Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and receive ongoing education about opioid use for both acute and chronic pain
  • Increasing insurance coverage of non-opioid pain management methods and coverage of medications for addiction treatment
  • For those in recovery, increasing employment opportunities and expanding access to traditional housing, job training and social services
  • Initiating national action to reduce the stigma experienced by people with a substance use disorder
  • Directing pharmaceutical company settlement funds toward hospitals and other entities including but not limited to health and safety organization, community-based organizations and nonprofits, with the ability to address patient needs, the needs of other persons with an opioid use disorder and the needs of others impacted

The following organizations signed on to support the National Plan:

  • 525 Foundation
  • The Ad Council
  • Advocates for Opioid Recovery
  • American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work
  • American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
  • American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians
  • Arizona Chapter of the National Safety Council
  • Brady’s Hope
  • California Consortium of Addiction Programs & Professionals (CCAPP)
  • Captive Resources
  • Chesapeake Region Safety Council
  • Citizens for Effective Opioid Treatment
  • Connecticut Certification Board
  • Cory’s Cause
  • Davis Direction Foundation
  • Firmenich
  • Fletcher Group
  • FOA Families of Addicts
  • Houston Area Safety Council
  • International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC)
  • Iowa-Illinois Safety Council
  • Liver Health Initiative
  • LTM Foundation
  • Matt Adams Foundation
  • Minnesota Safety Council
  • National Association for Behavioral Healthcare
  • National Health Care for the Homeless Council
  • National Safety Council ArkLaTex Chapter
  • National Safety Council, Nebraska
  • National Safety Council of Northern New England
  • National Safety Council Ohio Chapter
  • North Dakota Safety Council
  • Northeastern New York Safety and Health Council
  • Oklahoma Safety Council
  • Operation RX
  • Parkdale Center for Professionals
  • Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
  • Safe States Alliance
  • Safety and Health Council of North Carolina
  • Safety Council of Western New England
  • Save the Michaels of the World
  • Shatterproof
  • Society for Public Health Education
  • South Dakota Safety Council
  • Southeastern Chapter – National Safety Council
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Tennessee Safety and Health Council
  • The Kennedy Forum
  • U.S. Steel
  • Utah Safety Council
  • Wisconsin Safety Council
  • Wyoming-Montana Safety Council

About the National Safety Council

The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

Source: NSC