Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


April 01, 2019


One. Trillion. Dollars.

That’s the estimated cost of the opioid crisis on the U.S. economy, a number expected only to rise in the future.

To put the severity of this epidemic in perspective, $1 trillion is more than 300 times the amount that Congress set aside to combat opioid misuse last year. And none of this mentions the human toll of the crisis, which is beyond devastating. In 2017 alone, we lost more than 47,000 Americans to opioid overdose. This includes family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers – people we knew, people we loved, and people we will never get back.

No second opinion is necessary to tell us what these numbers make painfully clear – opioid misuse is a serious problem requiring national attention.

America’s businesses are on the frontlines of this crisis. A recent survey finds that more than half of U.S. employers have been negatively affected by the opioid epidemic – and that number includes millions of small business owners. These hardworking men and women are doing everything they can to help struggling families, often covering costs for rehabilitation and other health care needs. But they could use our support.

Small businesses owners seldom have the bandwidth or expertise to tackle this problem on their own. Information on addressing opioid misuse is scattered and fragmented; it’s nearly imposible for time-strapped entrepreneurs to identify and share resources with those in need. This is where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation steps in.

Last month, the Foundation launched Sharing Solutions, a one-stop resource for businesses seeking assistance. Our website,, connects employers and employees alike with the tools they need to address prescription drug misuse in the workplace and, most importantly, save lives.

We have done the hard work of curating drug prevention resources through an employer lens so that small business owners don’t have to. Our website offers employers expert advice in working with health care providers and resources to help create a drug-free workplace. It also features a best-practices library, complete with stories from businesses that have successfully addressed this issue.

We will continue to refine this interactive platform to help companies share solutions and learn from each other in the fight against opioid misuse. Our website is just one small part of a multipronged approach to combat this epidemic. On April 11, the Foundation will launch its 10-city tour, connecting businesses in hard-hit regions with critical resources to tackle this problem.

Defeating the opioid epidemic will be difficult. But by enlisting the best of American business, we can turn the tide.

About the authors

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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