Working Together for a Drug-Free Workforce


Working Together for a Drug-Free Workforce

Opioid and drug misuse affects every Arkansas workplace. This problem creates daily challenges for employers as it touches the lives of employees and their families. At least 75% of employers have experienced an issue with opioids in the workplace.

Moreover, 95% of opioid overdoses occur in working-age adults. Human resources managers are seeing the effects in increased absenteeism, safety issues and lower productivity.

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More than ever, employers face hurdles in creating a ready, drug-free workforce. The opioid and drug epidemic is one of the most serious threats to Arkansas’ economy and the workforce.

Arkansas is tied as the state economy most damaged by the opioid crisis. From 1999 to 2015, it lost $33.5 billion in real economic output from lost productivity. This epidemic took 43,400 workers out of Arkansas’ workforce between 1999 and 2015, causing 574 million lost work hours.

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/AIA has joined forces with health insurer Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield and the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care to provide employers with a free toolkit of resources to help businesses prepare, prevent and respond to an employee’s misuse of opioids and other drugs.

These tools are designed to help employers, especially small- to medium-sized operations, develop a drug-free workplace program and answer questions they may be confronted with at their business.

How do you handle an employee who admits or is found to be misusing harmful substances? What about an employee who has a family member struggling with substance use? Is your business poised to offer a second chance to workers in recovery?

The employee health crisis is too big for us to go it alone. It will take everyone, especially the business community, to find solutions. Our coalition, Together Arkansas, can help.

It is providing employers a nationally developed course consisting of five modules. Together, these easy-to-understand training modules provide an overview of the legal and operational issues employers must consider. You may view one or all the modules, depending on your needs.

The videos will assist employers and managers to help existing employees who are dealing with their own drug-related issues or those of someone they care about. Each 13- to 16-minute video can be viewed as often as needed.

Additionally, a list of Arkansas and national substance abuse and mental health resources are included, along with a list of contact information for community resources in each county. Visit to download these free resources.

The modules provide information to help employers:

  • Assess the impact of drug misuse in the workplace.
  • Learn what is legally sound in drug-free workplace programs — what you’re allowed, and not allowed, to do.
  • Develop a policy that works for your business and workplace culture — learn about best practices.
  • Learn how, when and why to drug tests.
  • Implement a business-wide, drug-free workplace program and what it can and cannot include.

A healthier workforce helps everyone. We believe business owners and managers can and should help their employees break the bonds of addiction, get and stay healthy, and return to being creative, innovative and productive. Learn how to prepare, prevent and respond now by going to Together we can create a healthier, drug-free Arkansas workforce.

Randy Zook is president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas. Curtis Barnett is president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield. Ray Hanley is president and CEO of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. Email them at, and