SMART MAP Volunteers Trained To Help With Mental Health and Addiction

The heart of trade unionism is members standing up for each other, helping one another build a good and stable life. That is certainly the heart of SMART’s Member Assistance Program (SMART MAP).

SMART MAP’s trained member-volunteers focus on three key kinds of help for the mental health of our members and their families:

  • Awareness of problems and early intervention if needed. SMART MAP explains the problems caused by mental health disorders, focusing on substance abuse and suicide.
  • Access to treatment options and member health benefits. For each person, we evaluate options for intervention and treatment and for paths using union insurance.
  • Support and follow-up with compassionate member-volunteers. Once members enter a treatment path, SMART MAP volunteers support members during the process and in long-term recovery.


Volunteers are members with high credibility in the local; strong interpersonal and listening skills, time, and a natural desire to help others. Volunteers are trained to support members before, during and after treatment, including continued recovery.

Volunteers guide members to resources and provide the positive support and reinforcement needed in the early stages of recovery: 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for substance abuse, and Al-Anon and Nar-Anon for friends and family affected by another’s addiction.

When members finish initial treatment, getting back into their home and work life can present steep obstacles. The therapeutic value of one member understanding and helping another member is without parallel. This important support is often the difference in recovery or relapse.

To learn more, please contact your Local Union Representatives.

If you want to become a SMART MAP volunteer… get in touch.

If you know a SMART member (or family member) who might be in need… get in touch.

If you have problems like these and might want assistance from a fellow member… get in touch.

The costs of addiction is staggering

  • An estimated 20.8 million Americans are living with a substance use disorder. This doesn’t include the millions misusing substances who may not yet have full-scale disorders. This is more than the total of all cancers combined.

Death, suicide, family crisis

  • Excessive alcohol use causes 79,000 U.S. deaths each year.
  • About 100 Americans die each day from a drug overdose.
  • 350 die each day from addiction.
  • Suicide rates for alcohol addicts are 30 times the general rate.
  • Children of addicted parents are at high risk for problems with alcohol, drugs, school, high levels of anxiety and depression.

Health care costs and rates increase

  • Individuals with addiction have higher incidents of other chronic physical illness, mental health problems, and infectious disease.
  • 35% of emergency room patients with an occupational injury are problem drinkers.
  • Heavy drinking contributes to illness in each of the top three causes of death: heart disease, cancer and stroke.
  • 1 in 14 hospital stays involves addiction.
  • About 20% of all Medicaid hospital costs and nearly $1 of every $4 of Medicare spent on inpatient care is linked to addiction.

Employer costs can kill jobs

  • An estimated 500 million workdays are lost annually due to addiction problems.
  • Employees with addiction issues function at about two-thirds capability and are three times more likely to be late for work.
  • Up to 40% of industrial deaths and 47% of industrial injuries can be tied to alcohol problems.

— Data: U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Admin.

Suicide: Men in construction aged 25-54 face highest risk

A recent report on Occupation and Suicide from the Centers for Disease Control showed the Construction/Extraction industry with the second highest rate of suicides and the highest number of victims.

  • There is no doubt that many of our SMART members are in a high-risk category for suicide, which is why our SMART Member Assistance Program (SMART MAP) has made suicide prevention a top priority.
  • Working-age men (age 25-54) form the largest number of suicide deaths in U.S. This group suffers from problematic thinking that mental health disorders are unmanly and a sign of weakness. They don’t talk about problems with friends or share them with their families— and rarely seek professional treatment.
  • Nearly 90% of suicide victims had a mental-health and/or substance-use disorder.
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