If you want to get a closer look at just how damaging America’s opioid crisis is, you need look no further than the community of Long Island, New York. In a recent report from Newsday, the working class region was shown to have taken an incredible economic hit due to addictions and lost jobs. The report estimates that construction businesses have lost tens of millions because of the opioid crisis with no end in sight.
The issues often tied to these losses include firings, lawsuits and (worst of all) fatal overdoses of employees. As a whole, the opioid epidemic is costing the American economy over $40 billion each year. As Newsday put it, the crisis is causing areas like Long Island to have a “traumatized workforce.”
“The opioid epidemic is not only ruining the lives of young people and families on Long Island… but also our business community,” business leader Jeffrey Capazzi told the site. “We had certain people being sent to rehab. We’ve had people that we’ve lost through overdoses. And it’s not just the young people, although on Long Island our kids are really being impacted terribly. It’s men in their 40s, women in their 40s. It doesn’t discriminate because it starts with a prescription.”
Long Island was singled out because they listed 600 opioid-related deaths in the past year alone. It is certainly one of the most hardest hit cities in the country. Long Island is also a major hub for small independent businesses. According to Newsday, 90 percent of its 97,400 businesses have no more than 20 employees. And that is certainly something to keep under consideration, when it comes to corporate treatment programs and such. Small companies like this cannot afford to help staffers and they take a much harder hit when someone succumbs to their addiction.
Though many areas in our own state weren’t mentioned in the piece, Southern California has its share of “Long Island” style communities as well. Many regions of Newhall, the San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley, for instance, include small working class companies facing the same issues as what’s happening on the east coast.
For now, many Long Island business owners are taking smaller measures to help employees who are caught up in the struggle. Local construction CEO Greg Demetriou added some final thoughts, which is how he chooses to address the problem with his team.
“I do everything I can to mention it, to talk about it,” he said. “I don’t know the mentality of business owners who don’t want to speak about it… If we don’t get the coordination and the help from the business community, we will never be successful in the fight.”