Press Releases


DPH Offers Workplace Policy Changes to Reduce Substance Abuse Impacts to Employers and the Workforce

Substance abuse costs Connecticut employers millions of dollars every year in lost productivity and days away from work, increased healthcare costs, human resources activities, and other resource expenditures.  In response, the Connecticut Department of Public Health announced this week that it has published The Opioid Crisis and Connecticut’s Workforce, a multidisciplinary white paper that challenges conventional, “punitive discipline” human resource models as ineffective in addressing complex substance abuse issues in the workforce.  The white paper can be found on the DPH website here.  

The paper proposes a set of five key components that employers should incorporate into more effective and compassionate workplace policies that recognize substance abuse as a chronic disease rather than a personal failing, incorporate the more current, evidence-based best practices of substance abuse treatment and recovery professionals, and identify the important role employers play as a partner in the treatment and recovery of workers and their families.  

“Both the public health and substance abuse treatment and recovery practitioner communities have long recognized that addiction is a chronic disease that affects people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and economies,” stated Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino.  “There are many people in our state and across the nation who have become addicted to pain medications through no fault of their own, such as after a workplace injury, surgery, or serious accident, and the outdated social stigmas and disciplinary practices surrounding addiction have prevented too many people from seeking treatment for fear of losing their jobs.  Employers have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of workers, but more importantly they have an opportunity to affect change and have a significant impact on curbing the opioid crisis.” 

“This white paper is the product of practitioners and researchers in the fields of public health, substance abuse treatment and recovery, employer human resources, legal services, and insurance providers working together over a two-year period to address the role of the workplace in mitigating the current opioid crisis,” said Thomas St. Louis, Supervisor of the Occupational Health Unit at the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  “The authors firmly believe that, in order to effectively tackle the growing substance abuse problem, it is critical for all employers to update their workplace drug policies to refocus them on the principles of early identification, instant support, employer flexibility, regular review, and enlisting success.”

For more information, contact the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Occupational Health Unit at (860) 509-7740 or