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National Restaurant Association - Industry commits to fighting drug abuse

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Industry commits to fighting drug abuse

Above: White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, left, with Carrie Leishman at the signing ceremony for the Support Act

Carrie Leishman, president and CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association, attended President Trump’s Oct. 24 signing of the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act”. Committed to helping the restaurant industry fight the problem of drug abuse, she and her team have developed a Drug Awareness & Prevention program. She explained why:

Why was attending the signing significant for you?
It was so important for us to address this epidemic, not only from a public health perspective, but from a workforce one, too. The drug crisis is gutting our workforce and we need to help our industry respond to the challenges coming into our businesses. Good talent is being wasted and it’s also costing our industry tens of thousands of dollars per location.

How does drug use and misuse affect our industry?
When someone is on drugs, they are five times more likely to have a worker compensation claim and are more likely to steal from fellow employees. They might even sell drugs to other employees. If we’re to promote this industry as an industry of choice for our future professionals, then we need to help develop a positive, healthy culture that will keep people in our industry. We’re struggling now in finding a workforce; we don’t have a second string. Here’s an interesting statistic, according to the Brookings Institution, 20 percent of low labor participation rates among males is because of drugs. We can’t afford that. We have to provide a healthy environment to attract employees. I believe our industry wants to do that, but they need resources and tools to help them.

How is your Association addressing the problem?
In Delaware, the drug problem mirrors what’s happening in the rest of the country. Our members are asking us for help; they don’t know what to do when someone at work is struggling with addiction. We put together comprehensive training to help them identify the problem, provide practical tools and solutions and help them connect employees to care.

When did you develop the program?
We started about a year ago, and it was a difficult conversation to have with some in our industry. This is an issue people don’t want to admit to. They don’t want to admit it could affect them, but, drug use and abuse knows know prejudice. No industry is unscathed by it. As leaders of this industry, we need to take it seriously, talk about it and offer solutions to retain the healthiest and most professional workforce out there. We went live Oct. 24. It’s designed for small business managers, owners and HR directors to manage and address the problem and connect people to care.

What’s the goal?
We want to address addiction and misuse in the workplace. To not talk about it and train for it is irresponsible. We have to look at what is happening in this country, how it is affecting our industry and act on it. There’s no time to waste.

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