Commonwealth Highlights Substance Use Disorder Prevention, Education Tool for Restaurant and Hospitality Workers

Substance Use Disorder Prevention, Education ToolCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PENNSYLVANIA — The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) joined C&J Catering employees yesterday to discuss substance use disorder (SUD) in the restaurant and hospitality industries, highlighting the importance of SUD education and prevention for employees and employers.

“Just below the construction and mining industries, the restaurant industry has a high rate of substance use disorder among its employees,” said DDAP Special Assistant to the Secretary Steve Ross. “Long, irregular hours and high-pressure, physically demanding work can all have an impact on an individual’s behavioral health. We must ensure that employers and employees know about every resource available to them to support individuals living with the disease of addiction. It is also critical to keep providing education to all employers and all Pennsylvanians to address the stigma still faced by those who are struggling with substance use disorder.”

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital reported an increase in opioid overdose deaths among restaurant-industry workers in Philadelphia in 2020. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the restaurant industry holds more than four million available positions across the country and is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations from now until 2031.

We need to make sure we are providing employees in the tourism industry, and their families, with the SUD resources and support they need to navigate these difficult situations,” said DCED Executive Director of Tourism Michael Chapaloney. “In the tourism industry, the restaurant industry – in all industries – we want employees to be both physically and mentally healthy.”

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The Wolf Administration’s Just Five initiative is a self-paced program designed to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and provide education about SUD prevention and treatment. It is displayed as six short learning modules that each take “just five” minutes to complete. The interactive lessons include:

  • The Science of Addiction
  • Are You at Risk?
  • The Dangers of Opioids
  • Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
  • How You Can Help
  • The Gift of Recovery

DDAP rolled out a version of Just Five to Pennsylvania commonwealth employees in May 2021 and an additional version of Just Five is available to all of Pennsylvania’s workforce. Since roll out, the statewide Just Five tool has had nearly 12,000 new users and users, with an average of 12 minutes of engagement per session.

DDAP operates the Get Help Now hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The hotline is a trusted resource for individuals and/or their loved ones if SUD treatment or resources are needed. The hotline is confidential, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and staffed by trained professionals who will connect callers to resources in their community. Callers can also be connected with funding if they need help paying for treatment.

To learn more about the Wolf Administration’s efforts in combating the addiction crisis, visit ddap.pa.gov.

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