By John Hilliard
Bryan Snow, an electrician from Peabody, knows about the pain opioid addiction can inflict on a family. The 41-year-old spent years battling the disease, not seeking the help he needed, in part because of attitudes in the construction industry.
Snow, drug-free now for seven years, said the industry must work to encourage those struggling with addiction to come forward to get treatment.
“It needs to be out there: ‘If you need help, you can come. It’s OK,’ ” Snow said.
As soaring numbers of construction workers battle addiction, building trades leaders in Boston are launching a conference this week intended to do just that: show contractors and union members how they can help those who are hooked on drugs and alcohol.
“We don’t [push] someone away who gets cancer or diabetes; we shouldn’t get rid of someone who suffers addiction,” said Thomas Gunning III, director of labor relations for the Building Trades Employers’ Association, which is organizing the event.
“It’s a disease of the mind, and we want to help them,” he said.
The goal of the week long conference is to help break down the stigma surrounding substance abuse disorder that discourages people in the industry from seeking help, Gunning said.
Organizers are also calling for Narcan to be available at all job sites to help prevent overdose deaths, he added.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh will speak Monday at the conference, according to a spokeswoman; it kicks off at 5 p.m. at IBEW Local 103’s headquarters on Freeport Street in Dorchester.
Among other goals, the conference aims to “provide resources and hope to those currently struggling and save lives,” Gunning said.
Kevin Gill, president of McCusker-Gill Inc., a sheet-metal contractor that employs 200 workers in Hingham, said Narcan will be provided at the company’s fabrication shop.
“It’s a very tough trade. [Workers] may have been given a painkiller to offset an injury, and before they know it, they have a full-blown addiction,” Gill said.
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