How the Opioid Epidemic Affects Nonprofits

Topics: Loss Control

Every day, thousands of individuals and families reach out to nonprofit organizations for support, resources and expertise in the midst of today’s opioid epidemic. As more and more individuals are impacted by this crisis, the need for treatment and recovery related services will continue to rise. As a nonprofit organization helping to make a difference in the lives of so many, it’s vital that you understand how the opioid epidemic can affect your operation.

What is the Opioid Epidemic?


According to the CDC, the first wave of the opioid crisis started back in the 1990s. As the number of prescriptions for opioids continued to increase, so did the overdose deaths involving them, increasing in number through 1999. Ten years later, in 2010, overdose deaths involving heroin began rapidly increasing and in 2013, there were significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl. From the period of 1999 through 2017, almost 400,000 people died from an overdose involving any type of opioid.

Why did this happen? It was believed at first that opioids were non-addictive, an error that led to more frequent and higher dosing when these medications were prescribed for pain management. When combined with the development of extraordinarily potent narcotics, the result was an increased risk for misuse and addiction, the likes of which have never before been seen.

The Challenges Facing Nonprofit Organizations from the Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic affects employers in every industry throughout the country, but nonprofits face unique challenges. They’re forced with increased intake volumes often without corresponding increases in budget and/or staffing. When resources become strained, nonprofit organizations simply cannot perform as well, and they often see an increase in risk factors not only their clients served, but also in their staff members and the health of the organization as a whole.

In particular, nonprofit sectors like the foster care system and drug treatment facilities have been impacted most significantly by the opioid epidemic. According to the National Council for Adoption, in 2016 over 90,000 children were removed from their homes due to parental drug abuse. And, according to information from the National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services, compared with data from 2000-2010, from 2005-2015 there was an 11 percent increase for overall admissions intake that was related to opioid addiction.

Nonprofit organizations will continue to see increased risks as they face inadequate staffing, facilities or systems that impact their abilities to best provide for their clients. This, in turn, can have an adverse effect on the quality of their services and treatments, possibly resulting in delayed recovery times, relapse, under-supervised patients or children and an overworked staff. When staffing ratios are exceeded, the risks increase even further as nonprofits face missing key personnel, disruptions of supplies or materials, and the possibility of encountering potentially violent clients. Every new admission can add pressure on the staff, the safety programs in place, and its workers’ compensation and liability policies.

Creating a Business Continuity Plan for Your Nonprofit Organization

As nonprofits and society as a whole continue to feel the impact of the opioid epidemic, organizations can take a proactive approach to the challenges they face by developing a business continuity plan. Business continuity programs are often utilized in the context of natural disaster planning. For example, weather-related risks that can cause business interruptions that would otherwise result in a great deal of loss for the organization.

Business continuity plans allow you to identify the specific threats facing your organization and outline the procedures that should be taken in the event of situations like a medical emergency, for evacuations due to a fire or other event, where to take shelter if necessary, how to respond to workplace violence and more. For more information about how to create a business continuity plan, visit the FEMA business continuity site.

Loss Control from AmTrust Financial

Visit AmTrust’s Loss Control Department’s new website to find helpful resources regarding workplace safety, nonprofits and more. It’s our goal to help insureds identify specific hazards and offer solutions that fit each operation. We are dedicated to providing the right recommendations and resources necessary to create the most effective loss prevention program for your organization’s needs. Please contact us today to learn more. This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice.

Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact with your local RSM for more information.
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