Construction industry ‘stands down’ for opioid abuse help

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(WTNH) — “You are not alone, there is help,” that’s the theme of construction industry ‘stand downs’ happening at construction sites all across Connecticut this week.

It’s a joint effort with the construction trade unions and is aimed at calling attention to the problem of opioid abuse specifically in the construction industry.

Travelers Insurance Company, which is the leading Workers Compensation carrier in the nation, says that about half of all claims related to the construction industry in recent years involve opioid prescriptions.

Travelers is working with the construction industry to help workers learn how to avoid developing chronic pain. And all this week, the industry and the trade unions associated with it, are holding stand-downs to create awareness, provide resources and reduce the stigma involved with opioid use.

Jay Soto, 54, of Wallingford, a heavy equipment operator, became so addicted he couldn’t work and says, “It was not an injury for me, it was just a progression of alcohol use, drug use, to the point where I could no longer function as a normal human being.”

Frank Huntley, 52, of Worcester, Massachusetts brought a mannequin he made from his pain killer prescription bottles and says he sought relief from arm and shoulder pain acquired from years of repetitive movements as a painter and wallpaper hanger. He has made it his personal mission. Huntley adding, “One pill, an hour later you need another pill, and hour later you need another pill. It needs to stop.”

It’s no surprise that construction workers have higher rates of work-related injuries than the population at large.

There are no stats for Connecticut, but in Massachusetts, the overdose death rate among construction workers is near 125 per 100,000. That is five times the rate for all other workers.

At a ‘stand down’ at the construction site at 165 Capitol Ave., in Hartford, Governor Lamont saying, “We’re here because this is not a moral failure. This is not because of some weakness. This is not something that we’re ashamed of. This is a health care crisis.”

There is an addiction help hotline available to everyone: 1-800-563-4086.

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