Boston – Iron Workers Local 7 kicked off the second annual Building Trades for Recovery Week conference in April at its union hall. The conference, organized by the Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA) Northeast, aims to raise awareness of substance use disorder (SUD) across the hard-hit construction industry while breaking the stigma surrounding abuse and addiction and providing resources and support for those in need.
“Local 7 is honored to kick off this year’s Recovery Week at our union hall,” said Mike Hess, business manager of Iron Workers Local 7. “Construction is dangerous work, and upholding safety on the job is a principal reason why unions are so important. Still, injuries do happen and even normal wear and tear out on the job can lead to addictive substance use, prescribed or otherwise. It is critical for people to understand that addiction is a chemical reaction, not a character flaw, so that people who need it will come forward and get help.”
“Whatever you’re going through, you don’t have to go through it alone,” said Mike Doucette, financial secretary/treasurer and organizer of recovery resources at Iron Workers Local 7. “That’s really the message of this recovery week. People from all walks of life have gone through addiction and come out the other side. There is hope and there is support for everyone.”
Chris Herren, former NBA basketball player and founder of the Herren Project; Frank Callahan, president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council; Thomas Gunning, executive director of BTEA Northeast; and Shawn Nehiley, president of the Iron Workers District Council of New England, all spoke at the kickoff event.
The speakers shared different perspectives on SUD and its effects on the construction industry, but all had one unifying message: No one needs to suffer alone. Any worker struggling with substance abuse and addiction should turn to the industry’s network of allies and resources for judgment-free, proven recovery support.
Research shows that the construction industry is disproportionately affected by SUD. This year’s conference comes at a particularly critical time as communities continue to rebuild in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which created increased mental health hazards as people were forced into mass layoffs, lockdowns, and social isolation. In September 2020, 15.1% of U.S. adults reported new or increased substance use due to pandemic-related stress.