Minnesota businesses join fight against opioid epidemic

Minnesota businesses are now getting into the fight against opioid addiction.

The Minnesota Business Partnership has joined forces with the Department of Health to help companies fight addiction and support treatment in the very places where people work.

“Because, frankly, for a lot of people they spend more time at work than they do at home,” said Charlie Weaver of the Minnesota Business Partnership.

The reason is reflected in the tragic loss of life. Preliminary data shows 401 Minnesotans lost their lives to opioids in 2017. That’s slightly higher than the 395 opioid deaths in 2016. Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says in Minnesota, the death rate from opioids has increased seven times since the year 2000.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck public health crisis in our state and our nation,” said Malcolm. “So, to have employers joining in proactive efforts to try to better educate and connect people to resources is just so very important.”

The new toolkit for businesses contains a video on changing the addiction conversation and helps employees prepare for overdose emergencies with training to use the anti-overdose drug naloxone. Additionally, it encourages businesses to make their workers aware of treatment programs available through their health plans. 

Changes aren't just happening in St. Paul. The U.S. Senate this week passed new opioid legislation written in part by Senator Tina Smith.

“It will support more medication assisted treatment and it gets targeted resources to states and tribes to expand treatment and recovery,” said Sen. Smith. “All of these things will help stem the tide of this terrible epidemic which is killing thousands of Minnesotans and Americans every year.”