I’ll never forget the day I received the call to rush over to Andre’s apartment, but by the time I got there, it was too late. The scene was chaos. I remember his dad, my dear friend, and business partner, Todd, there with the ambulance and the police. Andre, his handsome, bright, and brave son, and our friend, was gone. Drug overdose. Fentanyl.
These calls are all too common nowadays, and surprisingly, construction workers are the nation’s most vulnerable population.
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) conducted a study in 2019. They found that construction workers were 6 to 7 times more likely to die from an overdose than workers in other professions (citation).
Surprisingly, this figure is NOT due to construction workers being injured on the job and prescribed opioids. From the CPWR report:
…the percentage of construction workers who used prescribed opioids, on average, is slightly lower than workers in all industries combined (citation).
Drug use isn’t just a crisis in our communities; it’s a crisis in our industry.
Although construction has one of the highest injury rates, including individuals with chronic pain, many do not have health insurance and are less likely to receive a prescription for opioids. This may mean that illicit or illegal drug use is the reason for the high number of deaths in our industry.
Between 2011 and 2014, about 21% of construction workers reported illicit opioid use in their lifetime, the highest among the major industry sectors, and more than 30% higher than all industries on average (citation).
Around 15% of all construction workers in the US have a substance abuse problem.
The pandemic likely poured gasoline on top of this dumpster fire.
A more recent study conducted by “The National Safety Council” which found that construction workers’ illicit opioid use was twice the national average. Just this year, the American Addiction Centers reported, “[a]round 15% of all construction workers in the United States have a substance abuse disorder compared to 8.6% of the general population of adults…”
Making Positive Change
As you know, to honor Andre and ensure that his life will make a difference, we dedicated our Annual Open House and Fundraiser to raising awareness about drug use amongst our teens. And, thanks to you, our readers, customers, and partners, we donated $20,000 each to the LA County Sherriff’s Youth Foundation and Waymaker’s of Orange County.
Everyone here at Elite Construction equipment is grateful to everyone who participated in the event and/or helped to support the event and these organizations.