Together Arkansas, an opioid response initiative developed by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC), has received the endorsement of Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas Attorney General, and Kirk Lane, Arkansas Drug Director. The online toolkit also features connections to new resources available to help fight the opioid crisis in the state.
“We are pleased to receive the support of two well-known Arkansans committed to addressing the opioid crisis in Arkansas,” said Randy Zook, State Chamber/AIA president and chief executive officer. “Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane are familiar names in the fight against opioid- and substance-use disorder to help improve the health of the Arkansas workforce. As a sponsor of Together Arkansas, we are pleased to receive their validation of this important resource for employers in our state.”
Together Arkansas was launched in November 2019, a collaboration of the three entities as part of their ongoing efforts to address the opioid crisis by providing employers in the state a resource at no cost to help develop and promote a drug-free workplace. The online resource recently added connections to valuable information for employers and updated contact information for urgent help needed by employees and their families.
“At AFMC, our mission is to improve health care for all Arkansans,” said AFMC President and CEO Ray Hanley. “We are pleased to bring additional information to the online toolkit that can lead Arkansans to help and hope. And, we are happy to have Kirk Lane and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on the side of Arkansans in this fight. Their relentless commitment to raising awareness of the issue, encouraging people who are experiencing the impact of opioid use from all perspectives to get help, and protecting the innocent in the process is recognized and appreciated.”
Together Arkansas provides employers with a toolkit of free resources to help them prepare, prevent, and respond to the opioid crisis. The online course consists of five modules (13 to 16 minutes per module) that cover legal and operational issues, best practices for drug-testing, developing policies and procedures, how to respond to an employee’s misuse of harmful drugs, where to refer an employee who needs help, and providing options for an employee to return to work.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the biggest threats to business and our economy today,” said Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield President and CEO Curtis Barnett. “Not only has Kirk Lane been instrumental in raising awareness and combating the opioid crisis throughout Arkansas at the state’s highest level, he has been an important advisor for the Together Arkansas initiative. AG Rutledge has led the charge and raised the profile of helping stop illegal activity that keeps the Arkansas workforce vulnerable through opioid and other substance addiction. We’re pleased to have them carrying the banner for employers as they help their employees.”
Seventy-five percent of employers have had an issue with opioids in the workplace, according to a National Safety Council Employer Survey. In Arkansas, opioids take one life every two days and in 2017 there were 194 opioid-related deaths in the state, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) Arkansas Opioid Summary.