What are ‘Recovery-Friendly Employers’?  

  • Mary Drew. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Published: 8/8/2019 10:29:39 AM

As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage towns and cities across the United States, New Hampshire remains No. 3 hardest hit in the nation for fatal overdoses per capita, behind West Virginia and Ohio. New Hampshire has a serious, serious problem.

In the wake of this public health crisis are not just children and parents, but also employers, who across the United States are losing over $100 billion a year due to employee drug and alcohol issues – and it’s a complicated, messy, multi-faceted problem. Employers know employees with substance use issues are more likely to call out and miss work, have shorter employment tenures, have more interpersonal problems with co-workers, and have increased worker’s compensation claims. Employers are experiencing more lost revenue, decreased productivity, and increased absenteeism. And to complicate matters, many employers are also having to turn work away because they can’t find people who can provide a urine sample negative for drugs.

On the other side of the issue, there are an estimated 27 million people in recovery from addiction – many of whom cannot find a job because of a colorful criminal history which understandably can get in the way of securing employment. Many are apprehensive about job interviews – is being in recovery something they should disclose to a potential employer? What if that employer views addiction as a choice or a moral failing, or simply doesn’t want to risk hiring someone in recovery due to potential liability? Yes, there are risks, but wouldn’t creating a workplace environment conducive to supporting people in recovery to prevent relapses and setbacks, seem like a good way to counteract the what-if’s?

New Hampshire employers are now being forced to look outside of their policies and procedures to find solutions so they can ‘get back to business’. Now there is a new opportunity for employers which not only helps employers and potential employees, but as a by-product also builds real and meaningful social connections between people – something key to ending substance abuse and addiction.

Employers can now become Recovery Friendly, under Governor Sununu’s Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative. Employers can take an active role in improving the health and productivity of employees, while maintaining a motivated workforce. By creating an environment supportive toward people in recovery, employers are saying they understand the importance of a solution-focused approach by addressing addiction and behavioral health issues “head-on.” And Reality Check can show interested employers exactly how to do this.

Recently, Reality Check, a nonprofit in Jaffrey, was awarded a $135,000 grant to implement the Recovery Friendly Workplace initiative for employers conducting business within the Monadnock Region. On Oct. 2, Reality Check will hold a Recovery Friendly Employers Conference outlining how to reduce costs related to employee’s drug and alcohol issues, and how to shift workplace culture from zero tolerance to actively supporting people. Employers will also learn how to earn Governor Sununu’s Recovery Friendly Workplace Designation.

The conference is being held at Grand View Estate in Jaffrey and is intended for CEO/COOs, human resources directors, senior managers, and department heads. Special guest speakers are Shannon Bresaw on the Governor’s RFW Initiative; Gina Riordan from Drug-Free Workplace – Pennsylvania; author Leaf Seligman on Meaningful Engagement; Kate Frey on the Economic Impact of Substance Misuse to NH; Mark Lefebvre on NH Works For Recovery, and Jackie Mitchell from Badger Company explaining what they do as early adopters of workplace recovery practices.

Interested Monadnock region employers can register for the conference at www.realitychecknow.org, email Nicole@RealityCheckNow.org or call (603) 532-9888 to learn more. Conference attendance is capped at 125 people; early registration is encouraged.

Mary Drew, CEO of Reality Check, founded the Jaffrey nonprofit in 2008 after she began her own recovery from alcoholism. She can be reached at Mary@RealityCheckNow.org. Drew is a member of the Be the Change-Behavioral Health Task Force.


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