4 Reasons to Start Your Career with Gándara [We’re Hiring!]

The Gándara Center is growing. Fast. In response to the opioid crisis and the increased need for substance use and mental health treatments, our facilities are staffing up. Everyone has been touched in some way by the crisis, so we’re boosting all our efforts to improve the health and safety of our community members and loved ones. Can you empathize and organize? Are you willing to make a lasting positive impact? Can you engage and connect with administrators and community leaders alike? We’re hiring a part-time Marketing and Development Assistant.

If you’re looking for a nonprofit job in addiction and mental health treatment, look no further. Gándara is looking to fill a flexible, part-time position that will have a hand in almost every aspect of our services. We have over 800 employees in facilities across Massachusetts, and with your help we’ll be able to serve every single one of their clients, while, on the administrative end, we’ll be able to connect with foundations, government, and the community at large.

Here are 4 reasons to start your career with Gándara:

1. You’ll Tell Meaningful Stories

The clients we serve all have powerful testimonials about their history with substances use disorder, mental health disorder, and their own pathways to recovery. These people and their stories often inspire others to seek treatment as well. In this position you will play an important role in conveying these stories over social media platforms, email newsletters, blog posts, and in the community. Using communications best practices and marketing analytics, you’ll help us determine the best ways to get our clients’ messages out to those who need them the most.

2. You’ll Help Plan and Participate in Community Events

Gándara prides itself on not only serving the community, but being an active part of it. You’ll actively participate in our pillar events—such as our annual Frozen Yogurt 5K fundraiser, ArtSong reception to provide artistic outlets for youths, and Holyoke Recovery Day to celebrate the recovery efforts of our clients and individuals seeking treatment. We’ll give you responsibilities for helping plan and execute the logistics that make these events possible, and rely on your creative input to help us put together events in response incidents taking place in the moment, like our campaign to support the Puerto Rican community affected by Hurricane Maria.

3. You’ll Have Flexibility

This is an entry-level, part-time position. That means our organization is committed to providing the right candidate an opportunity to expand their resume, take on leadership roles, learn to be proactive instead of reactive, and gain an understanding of how nonprofits operate. We also realize that you may have another job. Or that you may be pursuing an education. Or that you have family obligations. We understand that life is busy and you may be juggling a number of priorities. This position is designed to accommodate your life outside the workplace without sacrificing the chance to gain professional experience. This job is intended to support our substance use and mental health programs, our outreach efforts, and your potential to grow with us.

4. You’ll Give Back to Under-served Populations

Statistically, in terms of occupation, income level, and ethnicity, the Latinx and African-American communities are at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders. We work directly with, and directly on behalf of, these populations and everyone else seeking treatment. As the marketing and development assistant, your work planning events, drafting communication, engaging on social media, and joining communities will make an immediate and direct impression on the people who need it most.

We look forward to evaluating candidates for this job and welcoming someone to our growing team. Learn more about the job description and submit your application today.


The Gándara Center provides residential, mental health, substance abuse and preventive services for children, adults and families across the Pioneer Valley and eastern parts of Massachusetts. Founded in the Latinx community, we value cultural diversity and strive to provide culturally competent, innovative services to a diverse community.

The Mission of the Gándara Center is to promote the well-being of Latinxs, African-Americans and other culturally diverse populations, through innovative, culturally competent behavioral health, prevention and educational services.

By |October 2nd, 2018|Events, Gandara in the News, News|Comments Off on 4 Reasons to Start Your Career with Gándara [We’re Hiring!]

4 Reasons to Apply for Gándara’s Recruitment Marketing & Sourcing Specialist Job

It’s a good time to find a job in Massachusetts, especially in the nonprofit sector. The state’s unemployment rate sits at an optimistic 3.5%, the lowest since 2000. As a result, local nonprofits are growing and need people to help push their marketing and recruitment efforts. The Gándara Center is experiencing growth of its own. This trend has created a need for individuals who recognize how to implement employer brand strategy, attract and retain new talent, and rally the community at large.

Gándara is the leading provider of substance use and mental health services for Hispanic, African-American, and minorities. If you want to work on behalf of causes that affect people across the state, and ensure a safe and healthy place for you and your neighbors to live, here are 4 reasons you should apply for the Gándara Center’s recruitment marketing and sourcing specialist job:

1. Mesh With the Community

With your help, Gándara will be able to build upon its already strong community ties. We oversee a number of events that engage neighborhoods and raise funds for new services in our locations. Whether we’re hosting a 5K road race, submitting a float for a cultural parade, providing arts and crafts for youths, or rallying at the State House, we’re constantly standing with and for the populations we serve. And we’re always looking for new ways to voice our support and compile helpful resources for those people and places.

2. You’re a People Person, Online and Offline

While yes, the work we do requires some person-to-person interactions, the role of recruitment marketing and sourcing specialist also requires tech savvy and enthusiasm for social media. Your work environment will combine the best of digital and human elements. You’ll sift through resumes, cover letters, and online profiles to recruit people with the right personality and experience to fill various roles. If you love meeting and talking with new people, analyzing data, executing marketing strategy, promoting job listings, and maintaining brand pages, then this may be the right job for you.

3. Advocate for the Underserved

All paths to recovery are welcome. Gándara is willing to help anyone who complies with the rules set by each program, especially people who identify as Hispanic and African-American. You will be on the front line of providing support to these at-risk populations. They—family, friends, neighbors, coworkers—are disproportionately at risk for developing substance use disorders, mental health disorders, or both.

In Massachusetts from 2014–2017, opioid-related deaths among Hispanics more than doubled in Massachusetts, a rate higher than any other demographic. When broken down by occupation, industry, and income, statistically Hispanics and African-Americans proved more susceptible to substance use and mental health disorders.

Our programs need knowledgeable staffers, caregivers, and clinicians to keep up with the demand for assistance. That’s where you come in.

4. Help Us Scale

Massachusetts is in the midst of a nonprofit resurgence. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows approximately 17% of employed residents work for nonprofits—well over half a million people. Specifically, locations where Gándara Center has one or more facilities are among the top places in the nation to work for nonprofits.

Most of our programs are conducted in Hampden County, where more than 200,000 residents are employed in nonprofits. The rate of employment, too, is on the rise, as are average weekly wages. In Suffolk County, where nonprofit jobs compose 29% of all employment, Gándara hosts a Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) program in Boston. In Hampshire County, nonprofit jobs make up 25.9% of all employment. Here, Gándara operates a substance use recovery program for men, a sober living facility guided by the National Association of Recovery Residences, and a support home contingent on a six-month commitment to sobriety, located all in Northampton. Also in Hampshire County is our substance use and alcohol treatment recovery program for youths in young women in Ware.

Apply Today

The person who fills this role will have the opportunity to not only build their own professional experience, but to improve the lives of Massachusetts residents who are chronically underserved and under-resourced. If making a positive difference in the lives of others is your primary goal, we urge you to consider working with us.

If you’re interested in applying for the Gándara Center’s recruitment marketing and sourcing specialist position, send us your resume and cover letter today.

By |September 14th, 2018|News|Comments Off on 4 Reasons to Apply for Gándara’s Recruitment Marketing & Sourcing Specialist Job

Become a Foster Parent and Open Your Heart to a Child in Need

Foster parents give our communities’ most vulnerable children a chance to prosper emotionally mentally, physically, and socially. Those who have ever considered being foster parents should know that they are desperately needed—there is a drastic shortage of foster parents both locally and nationally.

Opening your heart and home to a child who has experienced abuse and/or neglect—one who is looking for a safe, temporary, therapeutic home—is a huge commitment. But although there are challenges, there are also benefits, such as the sense of accomplishment in making a big difference in the child’s life. “Providing a loving, nurturing home to a child in need is incredibly meaningful and important,” said Nicole Coughlin, director of intensive foster care at the Gándara Center. “It’s not always easy, but the emotional rewards of the experience are immeasurable.”

There is a national shortage of foster parents for a variety of reasons. In many states, including Massachusetts, there is an increase of children being placed into care because of an increase in parental substance use problems. In Massachusetts, the number of children under 18 in state or foster care hit a record low in 2012, but since then, that number has risen by 25 percent. Now there are 9,458 children in state care (7,538 of them in foster care), which is an all-time high. Other areas in the country struggle with foster parent recruitment and retention.

Simply put, there are too few homes for too many foster kids. At Gándara, however, we believe there are no unwanted children, just unfound families. And we help prepare these families for a successful child placement. That is one reason we enjoy a good retention rate among our foster parents.

Those who become foster parents through the Gándara Center receive ongoing support through specialized case managers and services, 24-hour on-call staff, and training. “Our foster parents receive a lot of support,” said Coughlin. “Our case managers are in the home weekly, and we have a family resource manager in the home once a month.”

Elsa Dones, who has been a Gándara Center foster parent for seven years, never hesitates to tell potential foster parents about the joys of her experience. “I tell them that there are also struggles, but Gándara is there for you,” she said. She described the agency’s ongoing consultation, training, and resources  as a “team” approach to foster care. “That’s what makes Gándara so special,” she said.

Our Foster parents receive a daily tax-free stipend per child to help provide basic food and shelter needs, supervision, support and safety. “We also assist the parents in getting the child involved in such activities as after-school programs, camps, and sports,” said Coughlin.

Foster parenting gives the gifts of kindness, patience, and compassion—and gives foster children a chance at a good life.

For information about the Gándara Center’s foster parenting requirements, visit https://gandaracenter.org/become-a-foster-parent/ or contact Nicole Coughlin at 413-2359, x247 or ncoughlin@gandaracenter.org.


By |September 13th, 2018|News|Comments Off on Become a Foster Parent and Open Your Heart to a Child in Need

Health Benefits of Play: Why We’re Building a Playground at Our Group Home for Children

Playtime is an opportunity for children to absorb various physical, mental, and emotional benefits. It promotes wellbeing, informs critical thinking, and encourages a level of cognitive function that enables relationship-building, language proficiency, and social development. The health benefits of play abound. That is why we are building a playground at our Mooreland residential group home for children, and we need your help raising the funds.

A study set to be published in the September 2018 issue of Pediatrics highlights the important role play has on the lives of children. It instills in them a sense of how to learn. Through peer engagement, it instructs on how to work together to solve complex problems. Fostering collaboration, creativity, and community is crucial to the positive development of kids, and can be achieved with the help of playgrounds.

The physical influence of play is incredibly healthy. Play is essentially exercise, both for the brain and for the body. It is associated with low levels of fatigue, injury, and depression, and high levels of agility, coordination, balance, flexibility, and range of motion. And after participating in physical activity, children are more likely to pay attention in classroom settings.

Mooreland playground specs

Play has a direct effect on the structure of the brain, stimulating proteins that refine the area of the brain associated with play. In fact, measurable differences can be observed in protein production due to the absence of play. Stress is closely linked with play. High amounts of play are related to low levels of cortisol, which suggests play reduces stress or unstressed individuals play more.

Our Mooreland residential group home for children provides the youngest individuals we serve with some joy during an incredibly stressful time in their lives. For anyone who has experienced trauma in their lives, being removed from their homes and everything familiar to them, to be relocated to group housing, is overwhelming. The most restrictive barriers to play include neighborhood threats such as violence, drugs, and guns; low access to public spaces and recreational facilities; and unstable family infrastructure. Giving these children a safe and fun outlet in their backyard will help provide a positive light to their stay.

The Mooreland home provides shelter and assess youth who are moved from one housing unit to another. Services include comprehensive assessment; medication management; individual and family therapy; anger management and life skills group; education support; sensory therapy; transportation; recreation; and comprehensive case management using a trauma-informed approach.

There is still time to register for the 4th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K to help us raise money for then Mooreland playground. In return you will receive a timed bib courtesy of RaceWire, free frozen yogurt courtesy of GoBerry, and, if you place in our Male, Female, 12 and Under, and 50 and Over category, a medal.

The Frozen Yogurt 5K will take place on Sunday, August 26, in Northampton. The starting line will be by the Courthouse lawn (19 King Street), and the race will commence at 9 a.m.

By |August 20th, 2018|News, Science|Comments Off on Health Benefits of Play: Why We’re Building a Playground at Our Group Home for Children

Read Our August Newsletter Online!

Check out Gándara Center’s August Newsletter online at bit.ly/AugNewz. You can read about our 4th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K on August 26—complete with an interactive route map; a donor profile of Matt Bannister, first vice president for marketing and Innovation at PeoplesBank; local and statewide Gándara National Recovery Month Events coming up in September; our Intensive Care Coordination and In-Home Therapy services…and many more news items.

We’ve ramped up our coverage of not only Gándara Center and the recovery community in general, but also mental health and wellness, as well as interviews with Gándara Center subject matter experts in the news media.

By |August 17th, 2018|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Read Our August Newsletter Online!

Synthetic Substances: What is K2 & Why is it Dangerous?

Beginning Tuesday afternoon, people in New Haven, Conn. began exhibiting overdose symptoms  in large numbers. By Wednesday at least 70 people overdosed. By Friday, that number reached almost 90. The cause was the inhalation of a substance known as ‘K2,’ or ‘Spice,’ which may have also been laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl. So what is K2 and why is it dangerous?

What is K2?

K2 is a strain of synthetic marijuana that can be bought and sold at convenience stores, depending on location. Though synthetic marijuana varies from producer to producer, it is essentially dried leaves sprayed with chemicals that affect cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

According to Dr. Kathryn Hawk, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, synthetic marijuana like K2 are often “made in these kind of clandestine laboratories that are predominantly overseas… But they don’t represent, in any way shape or form, something that is kind of diverted from a pharmaceutical company or anything along those lines.”

Why is K2 Dangerous?

What is scary about synthetic marijuana is that nobody really knows what it is produced with. It can be laced with other, sometimes more powerful substances like fentanyl, which was suspected in the New Haven case. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so powerful it is estimated to be between 25-50 times stronger than heroin, and 50-100 times stronger than morphine.

People tend to think that because a substance like K2 is referred to as “synthetic marijuana,” it has the same effects as actual marijuana but that is not true. As noted by the Drug Policy Alliance, negative side effects of synthetic marijuana can include nausea and vomiting, seizures, aggression and agitation, respiratory failure, and loss of consciousness.

Emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers peaked in the early 2010s, but the accessibility of synthetic marijuana makes it a continuous issue. In some cases, users have died of complications.

Is K2 legal?

Generally, K2 and other synthetic marijuana strains are illegal. In 2012, President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, labeling multiple types of the substance a Schedule I drug. Nearly every single state has its own laws, too, though they vary in scope. Synthetic marijuana manufacturers have found ways to circumvent these laws by slightly altering the chemical formulas found in their synthetic products.

In Massachusetts, the law against synthetic drugs is punishable by a $200 fine, six-month prison sentence, or both.

The Massachusetts law states:

“No person shall intentionally smell or inhale the fumes of any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors, for the purpose of causing a condition of intoxication, euphoria, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction, or dulled senses or nervous system, nor possess, buy or sell any such substance for the purpose of violating or aiding another to violate this section.”

Some states have also proposed strengthening the laws they already have on the books; for some, the crime outweighs the punishment.


Because synthetic marijuana does not contain THC, the cannabinoid agent active in marijuana, K2 does not show up in toxicology results. This makeS it difficult for healthcare providers and emergency response teams to determine patterns for who uses them and which ones they use.

In New Haven, public health officials administered the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, commonly known as narcan. According to the Washington Post, at least 50 doses were given out. Some did not initially respond to the narcan and had to be given higher concentrations at the hospital.

Some people who experienced overdose symptoms were treated only to return to the New Haven Green, take more of the K2, and need narcan treatment again.

Luckily, none of the New Haven victims died.

Image via Public Domain/ Courtesy of the DEA
By |August 17th, 2018|Events, News|Comments Off on Synthetic Substances: What is K2 & Why is it Dangerous?

Gándara in the News: The K2 Mass Overdose in New Haven

On August 16 Western Mass News interviewed Deb Flynn-Gonzalez, program director for Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke, about the implications of the mass overdose in New Haven on August 15 and 16. Read the story and view the segment here.

At least 99 people overdosed on or around the New Haven Green after taking K2, a synthetic marijuana, which was suspected to be laced with opioids—and some reports saying PCP. In the following days Hope for Holyoke made sure to talk about the incident with everyone who came in for their recovery sessions.

The story pointed out that since the rash of overdoses made national headlines it had potential to impact people in recovery for addiction. “With a story like this out in the news it can be triggering for people, so it’s important for you to be able to talk about that,” said Flynn Gonzalez.

The story also noted that when news broke Wednesday that there were multiple overdoses in New Haven, the Gándara Center put out a Facebook post detailing K2 overdose symptoms.

Hope for Holyoke

Hope for Holyoke offers free, no-insurance-needed services including relapse prevention and tobacco cessation support groups, social events, access to computers for job readiness/job search activities, and advocacy and recovery coaching. Support also includes peer governance where participants form advisory boards and use community meetings to create policies such as Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, and determine program activities such as peer support groups and participation in health fairs, community events and celebrations/holidays.

All paths to recovery are accepted. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Parents may bring adolescents or children to the center if they follow the center’s policy related to supervision and attendance. Members who come under the influence of substances or alcohol are given a choice to go for treatment or they will be asked to leave and come back when they are not under the influence.

100 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Contact: (413) 561-1020
Monday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Open, Self
No costs, no insurance needed.
By |August 17th, 2018|Gandara in the News, News|Comments Off on Gándara in the News: The K2 Mass Overdose in New Haven

Overdose Death Data Show Spike in Fentanyl Use in Massachusetts & Nationwide [Report]

In 2017, as many as 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses caused by opioids. The statistics were compiled and published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday afternoon. The CDC overdose death data represent a 6.6% increase from 2016 nationally. In Massachusetts, though, overdose deaths decreased in the past year.

It is suggested that the increased use and potency of fentanyl is a major factor behind the rise of overdose deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so powerful it is estimated to be between 25-50 times stronger than heroin, and 50-100 times stronger than morphine.

Across the U.S., overdose deaths caused by synthetic opioids spiked from approximately 21,000 in January 2017 to more than 29,000 in January 2018. Massachusetts is experiencing a similar trend. Fentanyl overdose deaths are on the rise. Between 2014-2017, fentanyl-related overdose deaths doubled.

Also in that same time span, general opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts more than doubled among Hispanics–a rate higher than any other demographic in the state.

In New Haven, Conn. beginning Tuesday evening more than 70 people overdosed after using a synthetic marijuana called K2 or Spice. At least 35 people were treated for overdoses on Wednesday. No fatalities were reported. It is possible the drug was laced with powerful opioids, no excluding fentanyl.

While heroin-related overdose deaths showed signs of decline nationwide and in Massachusetts, cocaine-related deaths rose in both cases.

Specifically in Massachusetts, overdose deaths with cocaine and fentanyl present have risen sharply since 2015. This figure represents polysubstance use, meaning the illicit use of either substances, or cocaine with fentanyl present, hinting at the possibility of cocaine laced with fentanyl.

The data showed minority populations (i.e., Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics) already at higher risk of experiencing opioid-related overdose, and the recent rise over the past few years was more prominent among these populations.

The Gándara Center provides a variety of addiction treatment services to those in need, from long-term residential recovery to peer-to-peer support groups. We serve more than 10,000 people from all backgrounds per year at 45 locations across the state.

By |August 16th, 2018|News|Comments Off on Overdose Death Data Show Spike in Fentanyl Use in Massachusetts & Nationwide [Report]

Transgender Governor Candidate Helps Focus Attention on LGBTQI+ Substance Use & Mental Health

On Monday, Christine Hallquist won Vermont’s Democratic Primary in the contest to become the state’s next governor. In a state where the governorship has passed back and forth from Democratic to Republican hands on an every-other-person basis since the 1960s, a Democratic Primary victory typically does not make news. But this year is different. Christine Hallquist is the first transgender governor candidate nominated by a major party.

Hallquist’s victory is an historic step towards the normalization of people who identify as LGBTQI+ as legitimate holders of public office. Just as significant, Hallquist’s win helps to reposition the spotlight on the substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health issues plaguing the LGBTQI+ community at rates higher and more harmful than people who identify as heterosexual.

For too long the LGBTQI+ community has been marginalized, stigmatized, and prejudiced against when it comes to SUDs and mental health. They suffer the many of the same addiction and treatment problems facing heterosexuals; because of longstanding—albeit, fading—biases, they are more likely to experience SUDs, suicidal tendencies, discrimination, and disparate care.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), LGBTQI+ individuals are “3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.” This is largely due to the pressures of coming out and the fear of being rejected not only by loved ones but by the community at large, which can lead to anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use, and suicide.

A 2016 study supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found LGBTQI+ community members were more likely to use illicit drugs in the past year, to be current cigarette smokers, and to be current alcohol drinkers compared to heterosexuals.

LGBTQI+ and Heterosexual percent using illicit drugs

Non-heterosexuals are at an increased risk of experiencing discrimination within a number of community institutions. The Center for American Progress found that 43 percent of gay and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination and harassment. Nearly 60 percent of gay and 70 percent of transgender people have experienced housing discrimination, including being denied affordable housing. Gay adults are about twice as likely to be without health insurance, making their healthcare less accessible and more expensive.

Race and ethnicity also weigh heavily on LGBTQI+ people. Those who identify as Hispanic face an additional burden because, according to a 2017 study published in American Journal of Men’s Health, “it is feared they will display effeminate behaviors, violating traditional codes of masculinity.” They are pressured to conform to rigid gender roles and when they fail to do so, they face higher rates of family rejection. This can lead to depression and in their despair gay Hispanic men are more likely to engage in sexual practices with high-risk exposure to HIV.

There are a number of measures we can take to ensure the safety and good health of the LGBTQI+ community. We must acknowledge that their sexual orientation and preferences do not define them and should have no impact on their basic human rights, including access to health services, housing, and fair employment practices.

We must also put into place effective treatment infrastructure for those in need. This includes opening and properly staffing facilities, residential homes, and clinics; implementing community programs to educate and inform the general public; and advocating at the local, state, and federal government levels. All of this will lead to reducing stigmas, but we must take care to do this in both the long-term and the short-term.

Christine Hallquist’s primary win is incredibly important to the LGBTQI+ community not only because it advances the cause in terms of political trajectory, but because it helps emphasize that this community is composed of people with more incidents of SUDS than heterosexuals but are receiving less care.

The Gándara Center fully recognizes the rights and needs of the LGBTQI+ community. Our youth residential programs have the capacity to, and are operated by staff trained to, engage and support this population.

By |August 15th, 2018|Events, News, Politics|Comments Off on Transgender Governor Candidate Helps Focus Attention on LGBTQI+ Substance Use & Mental Health

Minorities in These Jobs are More Likely to Suffer Opioid Overdose Deaths [Report]

Residents with physical labor jobs in Massachusetts are more susceptible to substance use, opioid addiction, and fatal overdose. A study published by the Department of Public Health examines opioid-related overdose deaths by industry and occupation from 2011 to 2015. It found that construction workers; farm, fishing, and forest workers; and transportation and warehouse workers have the highest rate of overdose death.

The data included in the study indicate that opioids pose the greatest threat to Hispanics working in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations; followed by service occupations. Of Hispanics working in natural resources, construction, and maintenance, there were 76 (or 26%) fatal overdoses recorded, and in service occupations there were 66 (or 22.6%) overdoses recorded. For Black, non-Hispanics in service occupations, there were 51 (or 32.1%) recorded fatal overdoses.

Opioid-related Overdose Deaths by Industry

Data via Department of Public Health

Data via Department of Public Health

When we look at the data from a perspective of income, the risk for Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics is clearer. The median income ranges with the highest overdose rate was $40,000–$49,999 followed by $20,000–$29,999 and <$20,000.

According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey, in 2010 the per capita income for Hispanics in Massachusetts was $15,098; in 2014 is jumped slightly to $16,889. For Black, non-Hispanics during those same time periods, the per capita income was $19,554 and $21,725.

This means Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics are susceptible to opioid-related overdoses, even if they aren’t in service or natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations. Without more access to educational services and opportunities to rise through income levels and tax brackets, Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics will continue to be at high risk.

Image via Department of Public Health

Image via Department of Public Health


It may come as no surprise that these vulnerable industries and jobs are ones in which workers have high rates of work-related injuries and illness, lower availability of paid sick leave, and lower job security. Because of this, workers who sustain injuries in these professions are widely prescribed opioids to manage the pain.

A 2011 review of studies analyzing the use of prescribed opioids among workers receiving workers’ compensation found the average percent of injured workers prescribed opioids was 31.8%. In addition, 25% of workers’ compensation were for opioid pain medication.

It’s important to note that there was a 24% decline in the average amount of opioid use per injured worker between 2010–2012 and 2013–2015 in Massachusetts, meaning harm reduction strategies are showing signs of effectiveness, according to the Department of Public Health.

“Work-related injuries often serve as the initiation for opioid pain medication, which can subsequently lead to opioid misuse,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD. “Ensuring that jobs are safe, that the risk of injury is low and that workers have the time for rehabilitation and are not self-medicating to keep working are all key to decreasing opioid overdose deaths among workers.”

But perhaps the biggest takeaway here is that when it comes to the Massachusetts workforce, employees in low-wage, labor-intensive jobs that don’t require extensive higher education are more likely to develop an addiction to opioids and are more likely to suffer an overdose death as a result.

The study reviewed 4,302 opioid-related overdose deaths via Massachusetts death certificates. Statistical data for people who identify as Hispanic and black, non-Hispanic (the populations Gándara Center supports and promotes) may be an underestimate. According to the study, “death certificates among these racial/ethnic groups were more likely to have missing industry and occupation information,” and were therefore excluded.

By |August 9th, 2018|News, Politics|Comments Off on Minorities in These Jobs are More Likely to Suffer Opioid Overdose Deaths [Report]