State, county launch program to hire workers recovering from addiction

Jeorge Logan speaks about the importance of hiring people in recovery from addiction at the launch of a pilot program to support employers willing to hire such workers. STAFF/JIM OTTE
Caption
Jeorge Logan speaks about the importance of hiring people in recovery from addiction at the launch of a pilot program to support employers willing to hire such workers. STAFF/JIM OTTE

The program teaches companies how to manage workers in recovery and reimburses for drug testing.

A job is a key part of recovering from addiction. But everything from stigma to a spotty job history to brushes with law enforcement can make it difficult for those overcoming an addiction to get a job offer.

A pilot program in Montgomery County and two other Ohio counties launched Monday to support employers that hire those in recovery. It could help bridge the gap left in the wake of the opioid overdose crisis between employers who say they can’t find workers and those with histories of substance abuse who can’t find work.

 

It’s not just a workforce issue, officials at the program launch said. Whether a person can land a job can be a tipping point on how successful their recovery from addiction is.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation pilot program teaches managers how to manage and retain workers in recovery. The program also reimburses for drug testing.

“When a person has unstable housing or can’t find a job, relapse is much more likely,” said Jeorge Logan, who is working after past experiences with substance abuse and spoke at the program launch in Dayton. “You guys are taking a big part of that out by giving people a chance. They will be the hardest-working people in your company, because they have so much more to lose.”

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Logan said the program gives employers the confidence to hire and also gives people in recovery the confidence to apply for jobs because they know they have the support of the community.

The program gives training to employers to recognize warning signs that come before a relapse.

Logan said relapse is part of recovery and the program can teach employers how to prepare for that and intervene, and that accountability also helps the person in recovery.

“This isn’t like a hammer over their head. This is a hand on their back. This is ‘Come on. We know you face struggles. We’re willing to work with you. We’re willing to help you,’ ” he said.

The Dayton Daily News first reported the news of the program in early September. While the program was launched as a pilot Monday, Bureau of Workers' Compensation could roll it out statewide after the pilot stage.

The department has committed up $5 million over two years for the pilot, said Dr. Terry Welsh, BWC’s chief medical officer.

“The program acknowledges that Ohio’s employers need workers who are fit for duty and the fact that employment is crucial in the recovery process,” Welsh said.

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BWC is partnering with each pilot county’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health board to administer the program. BWC will give funds to each ADAMHS board. Employers pay for testing expenses up front and apply to the boards for reimbursement.

The pilot will also mean giving a forum for employers to share their success stories and learn from each other.

“There’s nothing like treatment, which leads to recovery and and recovery leading to people who are giving back to community. That’s really what the program is about from a very broad overview,” said Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of Montgomery County ADAMHS.

The pilot program will work in concert with an employer training opportunity already being run by Montgomery County ADAMHS called Working Partners. It helps businesses craft drug-free workplace policies that ensure safety and minimize liability while allowing for second-chance hiring of those with drug histories or arrest records.

Opioid Workplace Safety Pilot Program

For more information, contact Montgomery County Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services at 937-443-0416 or amack@mcadamhs.org.