The Role of the Workforce System in Addressing the Opioid Crisis: A Review of the Literature

The Role of the Workforce System in Addressing the Opioid Crisis: A Review of the Literature

Published: Feb 26, 2020
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica
Associated Project

How the Workforce System Can Address Challenges Presented by the Opioid Crisis

Time frame: 2018–2021

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Labor

Key Findings
  • Employment has been found to be a motivator for entering and adhering to treatment for opioid and other substance use disorders, and can lead to better outcomes for the people who are treated.
  • The workforce system has the potential to play an important role in helping people with opioid use disorders obtain and maintain employment, supporting employers as they respond to the opioid crisis, and helping to fill shortages in behavioral health occupations.
  • Effective partnerships will be critical in this response—including, but not limited to, partnerships with behavioral health organizations, sector and industry groups, and training providers.

This literature review summarizes evidence on three topics related to the intersection of employment and the opioid crisis: (1) effective and promising practices for providing employment services to people with opioid use disorder; (2) employer best practices for preventing negative effects of opioid use disorder in the workplace and creating recovery-friendly workplaces; and (3) key considerations for developing the health care workforce that is addressing the opioid crisis. The literature review summarizes some of the critical aspects of the opioid crisis and identifies related approaches to preventing, treating, and supporting recovery from opioid use disorder, then presents evidence and key takeaways and considerations within the three topic areas considered in the literature review. The review closes with a discussion of gaps in the current knowledge base and potential directions for future research in this area.

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