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The opioid crisis is everywhere

Empty bed on a trashed lawn
Photo: Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Simply going to work in the morning puts a lot of people on the front lines of the opioid crisis, whether or not they want to be — and whether or not they’re prepared to be.

What's happening: "Service workers are … the unwitting first line of medical responders," CityLab reports, because public restrooms have become such a popular place to use opiates.

  • Boston has been running a program for three years that teaches local businesses how to recognize and respond to an overdose, including how to administer naloxone.
  • "It ... seems like a lot to ask often low-paid, young service workers to double as medical responders. That’s not what most people expect when they apply to Starbucks or Target," CityLab notes.

Employers, especially in the construction industry, also are remarkably close to their own workers' addictions.

  • Construction has the second-highest rate of opioid abuse of any industry, and addiction is an open secret on many worksites, Kaiser Health News reports. But few companies do much about it.
  • "If you drug-tested everyone, you wouldn’t find many people to work with you,” one construction worker — who went straight back to work after being revived from an overdose — told KHN.
  • Construction unions are filling some of the void by steering members toward treatment programs when they need one, and helping them find work during their recoveries, per KHN.

Go deeper: Why businesses have a stake in solving the opioid epidemic.

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