Construction Firm Partners With Nonprofit for Addiction Treatment Program

A Massachusetts-based company working to get their employees the help they need to battle addiction hopes to serve as an example for other firms.

Shutterstock/ Sherry Yates Young

It’s no secret that the United States is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every day more than 130 people in the U.S. die after overdosing on opioids. No other industry is more affected by this crisis than the construction industry, as construction workers are more likely to misuse prescription opioids than any other profession.

One construction firm in Massachusetts, Commodore Builders, is attempting to get out ahead of the opioid problem by starting a program intended to help employees and their family members get treatment and assistance for any addictions. Commodore is partnering with a national nonprofit called the Herren Project, which will offer resources to Commodore employees affected by addiction and set them up with appropriate treatment.

Commodore’s willingness to work with their employees and help them through the addiction treatment process is a good step toward addressing the construction industry’s opioid issues head-on. Unfortunately, the firm’s addiction treatment program leaves out the exact people who are most likely to be affected by the opioid crisis: the active workers on their construction sites.

Commodore does not directly employ their construction crews, who instead work for subcontractors. That means that the people working on Commodore’s construction sites are excluded from the program. One of the main reasons that construction workers are more likely to misuse prescription opioids is that the nature of construction work can often lead to injuries that require pain treatment.

“It makes sense that we see higher rates of construction workers using pain-relieving substances such as opioids and marijuana, given the labor-intensive nature of their work and high rates of injuries,” Danielle Ompad, an associate professor of epidemiology at NYU, wrote in a recently published study.

Commodore’s new addiction treatment program is unable to help the people on their jobsites most likely to be affected by the opioid crisis. The company’s vice president and chief operating officer Tom Comeau hopes that even if the program cannot help construction workers directly, it may benefit them indirectly by providing an example for other companies to follow.

“Someone has to take steps and create an example and lead out here,” Comeau told the Boston Globe. “If it works well, it can be a model for other subcontractors and unions.”

If other companies are actually looking to start a similar addiction treatment program, modeling it after Commodore’s is a good place to start. Bringing in the Herren Project is a smart move as it puts the non-profit, which already has expertise in the addiction treatment area and resources on hand, in a direct position to get people the help they need.

Under Commodore’s program, employees will have access to a hotline which can connect them to a trained clinician who will help them develop a treatment plan specific to their situation. Perhaps the most essential part of the program is Commodore’s willingness to work with people as they progress along their treatment journey. Commodore will pay for any medically necessary care not covered under insurance, and every employee’s job will remain secure as they undergo treatment.

For now, Commodore’s addiction treatment program is both a welcome sign that companies are willing to combat the opioid crisis and a frustrating reminder that complicated systems can prevent some of those most in need from getting the help they need.