Substance Abuse: A Real Problem With Real Costs To The Workplace

The human toll of drug addiction has been devastating to families and communities across the United States. The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that in 2015 there were 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance abuse disorder. In that same year drug overdose was the leading cause of accidental death. Opioids are the primary driver of the epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which was more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills. In addition to loss of lives and devastation to families and communities, addiction is costing employers through lost productivity and rising health care costs. The Pew Charitable Trusts estimate that illicit drugs have an annual economic impact on employers of $193 billion.

Our own community has felt the pain and loss associated with drug addiction. Drug addiction and substance abuse is impacting local businesses as well. We are in a situation where many employers are having challenges finding the workforce they need to fill jobs in their companies. Complicating the challenge is the drug epidemic. Although our organization does not collect specific data regarding drug testing in workplace, we can tell you that anecdotally employers have identified challenges filling job openings and maintaining workers because of failed drug tests. It is estimated that nationally, 9% of employees tested positive for one or more drugs in screenings performed in 2015. It is estimated that roughly half of employers across the United State perform drug screenings.

There is hope in overcoming this challenge. Fortunately here in our part of the world, we have many excellent organizations and people working on this problem. To hear from many of them and to learn more about how you can take action, we encourage you to attend ‘The Many Faces of Addiction; No One Cause, No One Solution’ this Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Jamestown Community College, Scharmann Theatre. This is a FREE community education forum being presented by the Health Care Action Team, The American Association of University Women and the Mental Health Association.


Dr. Minda Rae Amiran, professor emeritus at SUNY Fredonia, will be recognized with the 2017 Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award presented by the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce during its Annual Meeting on Friday, December 8. Dr. Amiran has long been active in a number of community organizations. She has been an advocate and tutor with Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County and has been active with the League of Women Voters in Chautauqua County.

The slate of Chamber Board officers nominated is: Chair, Brian Bugaj, Nestle Purina PetCare; Vice Chair, Fred Johnson, Johnson Estate Winery; Treasurer, Neil Frederick, Bush Industries; Secretary, Ann Abdella, Chautauqua County Health Network; Immediate Past Chair, Curt Anderson, Standard Portable Inc. New members nominated for the board are: Michael Pucci, Pucci’s Carpet One Furniture and Vicki McGraw, Elegant Edibles Catering.

The 2017 Chamber Annual Meeting will be held at the Clarion Hotel, Dunkirk. It is sponsored by M & T Bank, Northwest Arena, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, Star Media Group, and Univera Healthcare Southern Tier. Registration begins at noon followed by lunch and the meeting at 12:15pm. Invitations, which include a proxy vote, are being mailed to all Chamber members. The cost is $20 for Chamber members or $23 for non-members. You can make reservations by returning the invitation form, by calling the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101, or online at


The Dunkirk Community Chamber of Commerce Annual Appreciation Dinner will be held Thursday, November 16 at Manning’s Fireside Manor Restaurant, 5377 West Lake Road, Dunkirk. Guest speakers will be Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas and Rebecca Yanus, Director of Economic Development. This event is sponsored by: Bart’s Cove, City of Dunkirk, Graf Realty Corporation, Hometown Insurance, Main Wine & Spirits, Matts News, Ralph’s Pennzoil, and The Chautauqua Center. All Chamber members are welcome to attend. The cost for a buffet style dinner is $25 per person. The cash bar cocktail hour is from 4-6pm, with dinner at 6pm. Reservations are required and can be made online at or by calling the Chamber at (716) 366-6200.


The Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber of Commerce will hold its Annual Banquet and Meeting on Thursday, November 16 at Andriaccio’s Family Restaurant, 4837 West Lake Road, Mayville. Cocktail hour begins with a cash bar at 6:30pm, with dinner at 7pm. For more information or to make reservations, contact Chamber Coordinator Debby Marsala at 753-3113.


The Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber of Commerce is encouraging all businesses in the village to participate in the Victorian Christmas in the Village Dickens Experience, November 17-19. Business people are encouraged to dress in Victorian clothing, keep shops open late Friday and Saturday evenings and open on Sunday from 10-4, decorate storefronts with white lights and door wreaths, and to help promote the weekend activities. For more information, contact Chamber Coordinator Sue Poster at (248) 830-6058.