Overview and Statistics

Cheryl Brown Merriwether, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CPRC, CRSS, CM
Executive Director

Welcome to Workforce Solutions 

In response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Jean LaCour and Cheryl Brown Merriwether have co-created ICARE Workforce Solutions™ within our new workforce division that we call Strategic Sobriety™.

We created this new workforce division because jobs are in jeopardy for people who do not know how to manage their feelings and stress without turning to alcohol or drugs.

ICARE Workforce Solutions™ provide effective tools and confidential processes to equip businesses of all sizes to:

  • assess risk
  • promote resilience to avert overuse of substances
  • protect your employees
  • increase engagement, health and well-being
  • mitigate risk
  • reduce financial loss

Trend Report

EAPs expand rapidly as organizations adapt to new workforce challenges
Broader, more progressive benefits produce higher engagement and better ROI.

The findings of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report during late June 2020, reported considerably elevated adverse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation related to COVID-19.

Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and essential workers (among others) reported having experienced disproportionately worse outcomes during this window of time regardless of levels of income or education.

The public health response to COVID-19 pandemic should prioritize these groups and increase early intervention and prevention efforts to address associated mental health conditions.


Pandemic has driven Americans to depression and drinking, CDC says

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis has gotten worse. Drug overdose death rates rose 13% in the first half of 2020. COVID-19 threatens to dismantle an already frayed addiction treatment system, creating a crisis on top of a crisis.
The opioid crisis, or, more aptly, the overdose crisis, has plagued the U.S. for two decades. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death, claiming 70,000 American lives each year. Opioids contribute to 130 deaths daily, enough people to fill a commercial airliner.

Many overdose deaths involve multiple drugs. Prescription drugs now play a less prominent role than polular street drugs. Synthetic narcotics – or potent illegal opioids manufactured in labs – poses the biggest threat. It contributes to twice as many overdose deaths as prescription opioids.

COVID-19 Stress Could Boost Alcohol Abuse Risk

We know the pandemic has led to a significant increase in daily stressors for many people. In addition to the stress caused by social distancing and increased isolation, people can also experience unexpected life changes during the pandemic, including job loss, business closures, job uncertainty, and other financial stressors.

Each type of stress is associated with an increased risk of alcohol and drug use. At a population level, we have seen this happen during other significant recessions and financial downturns.

COVID-19 has stressed us, contributed to problem gambling in New Jersey | Opinion

A gambling disorder is defined by persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress. Approximately 2 million U.S. adults meet the formal criteria for gambling addiction, with another 4 to 6 million estimated to be experiencing gambling problems. The effects are far-reaching, impacting the families and communities surrounding those suffering from the disorder.

Online poker and sports gambling are available in 18 states, and while the pandemic had shut down mainstream sports betting across the country for several months, sports betting has returned and many people continue throughout the pandemic to bet on virtual sports, online poker, and alternative markets.

NEWS The real winner of COVID-19 is Pornhub. Here are their stats:

Pornhub reports that since February 24th worldwide traffic has been above average, but began to increase more noticeably around March 10th. They released the following charts documenting the changes in viewership from the beginning of global efforts to self-isolate and social distance.

Since February 24th, worldwide traffic was above average, but began to increase more noticeably around March 10th. Traffic had increased by 13.7% on March 20th, but a massive increase of 18.5% occurred on March 24th when it was announced that Pornhub’s Premium service would be free to all visitors worldwide for one month to encourage people to stay at home and help flatten the curve of new Covid-19 cases.

Addiction treatment shrinks during the pandemic, leaving people with nowhere to turn

COVID-19 has overshadowed the U.S. opioid crisis, but that doesn’t mean opioid addiction has gone away. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis has gotten worse. Drug overdose death rates rose 13% in the first half of 2020. COVID-19 threatens to dismantle an already frayed addiction treatment system, creating a crisis on top of a crisis.

COVID-19 exacerbates the trauma that leads to overdose. Addiction is a “disease of despair,” meaning it is more common among people with poor social and economic prospects. Mental health conditions, job loss and housing instability all contribute to drug use.

The Pandemic makes treatment less available. Treatment centers struggling to stay open are reducing hours and furloughing staff. Syringe service program site closures and stalled opiate antagonist programs undermine harm reduction efforts.

ICARE Healthy Self Checkup

“The (CDC Weekly Report, June 2020) clearly evidences the issues caused by social isolation and lockdowns… The Assistant Secretary of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA) again urges local and state officials to consider all aspects of health and not solely virus containment as we move forward. Research is clear on the effect of shutdown and social isolation on an individual’s mental health. The negative health effects are potentially long-lasting and very consequential for individuals and their families.”


According to the latest data mental health has hit an all-time low as the unpredictable circumstances of the pandemic linger. Employee burnout is emerging as a widespread health crises. Most notably, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and addiction have soared.

Let us help you assess your organization’s status and strategies to empower your managers and leaders with training and tools to help them build psychological safety, express compassion, actively listen, and increase addiction awareness among employees in remote and onsite environments.

To stay informed about how to:

  • protect your company and your employees
  • learn more about our introductory Strategic Sobriety Awareness Check Up™

Sign up for our free email updates:


Ask about ICARE Sober Curious Learning™

Exploring the Benefits of a Sober Curious Workplace

Learn to:

  • Identify how the COVID-19 Pandemic has created a mental health and substance misuse pandemic among the workforce.
  • Explain the relationship between workplace culture, substance misuse and the hidden costs of addiction.
  • Understand the benefits of a “sober curious workplace culture” and develop a plan to cure the sickness of silence.

Future topics include:

  • Diversity/Equity and Inclusion – DEI Solutions.
    Using DEI Initiatives to Uncover the Power of an Addiction-Aware and Recovery-Minded Workforce.
  • Recovery Ready Workplaces: Best Practices for Success