BOSTON — The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.), in conjunction with John Moriarty and Associates, Meredith Management, Gerding Edlen and Nuveen, launched a first of its kind Recovery Friendly Worksite on Friday at the Fenway Center Project located at 771 Beacon St in Boston.
At Friday’s launch event leaders in the recovery and construction communities came together with more than 200 union workers to help reduce stigma surrounding substance use disorder and provide support and resources, including naloxone training, recovery referral resources, and access to naloxone at onsite. Kits with treatment resources and NARCAN, the opioid overdose reversal medication, are installed on site.
The pioneering program is intended to save lives, reduce the stigma and provide support and resources for those suffering from substance use disorders, and will soon be rolled out to all JMA constructions sites throughout the region.
According to a 2018 report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, construction workers account for nearly 25 percent of opioid-related deaths among the working population of Massachusetts.
“Given the opioid epidemic’s toll on the construction industry, with construction workers accounting for nearly 25 percent of opioid-related deaths among the working population of Massachusetts, efforts to reduce stigma and encourage individuals struggling with substance use disorders to connect with local treatment and support services is vital for every construction site and employer, stated Meredith Management President and P.A.A.R.I. co-founder John Rosenthal.
“Every community and industry is impacted by the opioid epidemic, but due to a higher incidence of workplace injuries and a greater likelihood of being prescribed opioid painkillers, it is especially essential to support people who work in industries like fishing and construction,” said Allie Hunter, P.A.A.R.I.’s executive director. “We hope this program will inspire other construction companies and worksites of all kinds to launch similar initiatives that prepare for overdose scenarios and create stigma-free access points to treatment and recovery.”
Also included in the partnership is Tac Life Systems/NarCase who created a first-of-its-kind specialty NARCAN kit custom developed for work sites and other venue-based naloxone access programs. NarCase kits have been be wall-mounted in six locations at the Fenway Center construction site, four of which will be in construction hoist elevators, allowing the quickest on-scene access to the medication in the event of an overdose.
Single step 4-mg NARCAN and NarCases were also distributed to 56 crew members during the event.
The new initiative also included access to informational materials from P.A.A.R.I., including referral cards for P.A.A.R.I.’s team of Recovery Corps Recovery Coaches, who provide support to individuals struggling with substance use disorders or who are in need of support for a loved one. Those in need of support were encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for free and confidential support. Marc Lyle, Recovery Support Specialist for the Massachusetts Laborers’ Benefit Funds, was also in attendance to offer support.
“Our industry has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic and our goal is to break down the stigma surrounding substance use disorder, through education, training, and by equipping sites with life-saving naloxone,” Moriarty said. “We are committed to creating a culture where the men and women working on our sites know that recovery is possible and that we are here to help. This model for a recovery-friendly worksite will be rolled out to all of our projects, and we are grateful to all of our partners for their support in this important, life-saving new program,”
Tom Gunning of the Building Trades Employers Association added, “We are inspired to see this collaborative partnership bring meaningful solutions to construction job sites in Boston in an effort to change the narrative for those struggling with substance use disorder.”
The partnership announced at the event carries support from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Mayor’s Office.
“I am grateful for this partnership because it works to promote substance use education and reduce addiction stigma,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “This innovative recovery-friendly worksite is a continuation of excellent work being done by P.A.A.R.I. and their partners. We are proud of our partnership with P.A.A.R.I. through the Boston Police and the Office of Recovery Services, providing substance use services to those in need of support.”
The Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. Founded alongside the groundbreaking Gloucester Police Department Angel Initiative in June 2015, P.A.A.R.I. has been a driving force behind this rapidly expanding community policing movement. We provide technical assistance, coaching, grants, and other capacity-building resources to more than 450 police departments in 33 states. P.A.A.R.I. and our law enforcement partners are working towards a collective vision where non-arrest diversion programs become a standard policing practice across the country, thereby reducing overdose deaths, expanding access to treatment, improving public safety, reducing crime, diverting people away from the criminal justice system, and increasing trust between law enforcement and their communities. Our programs and partners have saved thousands of lives, changed police culture, and reshaped the national conversation about the opioid epidemic. Learn more at www.paariusa.org.