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“This is about profitability,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in his remarks. Untreated addiction costs New Hampshire businesses $2.4 billion in lost productivity, according to a 2017 study by PolEcon Research. While he was CEO of the Waterville Valley Ski Resort, Sununu said, he addressed the issue of addiction among his employees by connecting younger workers in active addiction with older workers in recovery. Doing so helped the younger works find services they needed, he said. Sununu also said the state recently has begun a recovery friendly workplace effort to recognize employers who have made an effort to support those in recovery. Businesses also can be negatively affected by having employees on the job who are distracted by their own illness or that of a loved one. While Brandon Farrow was alive, Mitchell said, she was burdened by the stress of not knowing where her son was, whether he was living or dead, or whether he would agree to undergo treatment if she found options for him. For those eight years, Mitchell took that stress with her to work, which affected her productivity, she said. “I took all of that pain and all of those feelings what comes after alcohol detox with me,” she said. Yet it wasn’t a stress she felt she could share with her co-workers, except in private conversations with people she knew were going through something similar. To support others like herself who may have a loved one struggling with addiction, Mitchell worked with others at Badger last year to bring speakers to discuss how to change the culture so that people would feel more comfortable speaking openly about their struggles with addiction and mental illness. They also hosted a training to prepare Badger employees to have these conversations with co-workers and others in their lives. This year, Badger plans to expand its efforts to focus on prevention and to host a training on how to administer the overdose reversal drug naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, Mitchell said. “For businesses out there, the important thing is to create an environment where any individual feels comfortable to bring an issue to them,” said Rebecca Hamilton, a co-owner and vice president of research and development at Badger. Former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs and former CEO of Procter & Gamble Bob McDonald said that changing the culture of an organization isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. McDonald, who took over leadership of the VA in 2014 amid a crisis there related to veterans having long waits to access care, drew a parallel between the problems at the VA and companies’ approach to mental health and addiction. The access problems at the VA were symptoms of a larger cultural problem, McDonald said. What he found at the VA was a rule-based culture, not a principle-based culture. He described an instance where a receptionist refused to get up and assist a veteran with restricted mobility out of his car and into a VA medical center because it was against the rules. The veteran was forced to call 911 for assistance.
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