Peer Support Helps St. Louis Construction Workers Battling Addiction
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Construction workers are more likely to die by suicide or of a drug overdose than workers in almost any other field, and a St. Louis-based peer support system and hotline wants to change it.
According to the American Addiction Centers, those who work in construction have nearly twice the rate of substance use disorders as the national average.
Don Willey, pension chairman and Trustee for Laborers Local 110, helped initiate "LEAN-STL," which stands for Laborers Escaping Addiction Now-St. Louis. He said the program's peer support specialists have lived experience, which is effective in helping others in their recovery.
"There are people that gain recovery and want to give it away and help other people attain recovery and maintain sobriety," Willey explained. "That has been the best model in dealing with people struggling with mental health issues and addiction."
Willey pointed out the construction industry is both physically and mentally taxing, and he has seen many people become addicted after being prescribed opioids for pain. He explained construction jobs have some definite benefits, but there's also the uncertainty of not knowing when the next project will come around, which can be stressful.
Willey noted LEAN STL peer support specialists are also working to help break down stigmas associated with substance use disorders, addiction and mental health. He emphasized they offer resources, not diagnoses or treatment. And he added more can still be done, not only in the construction industry, but across the board.
"We need to create an environment of free thought and speech when it comes to this topic," Willey urged. "We need to make these epidemic issues in this country as easy as talking about blood pressure, weight loss, weight gain. As easy as dealing with diabetes. It should carry no more stigma than that."
Willey stressed staying silent on the issue can be deadly. The LEAN STL program is free of charge, for Laborers' union members and their families. It's funded through the Greater St. Louis Construction Laborers Fund.
get more stories like this via email
A bill in Congress with a Connecticut House sponsor aims to reduce child labor in the United States. Called the "Children Harmed in Life-Threatening …
As the opioid crisis continues, more New Hampshire grandparents are seeking financial help to raise their grandchildren. Already struggling with the …
As of Jan. 1, insulin will become a lot more affordable for many Nebraskans, and those who have come to rely on telehealth visits are more likely to …
Some state and local lawmakers are on a long list calling on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to require big oil companies to help offset the costs of …
Utilities and government agencies in the U.S. are carrying out plans to transition to cleaner electricity sources. To avoid being left behind…
Health and Wellness
November has been Diabetes Awareness Month - but heading into the holidays, people who are diabetic know they can't lose their focus on keeping it in …
Conservation groups are celebrating a long-fought battle to protect the dwindling population of wolverine in the Northwest and northern Rockies…
As world leaders gather in Dubai for the international conference on climate change, the City of Long Beach is acting on multiple fronts to help the …