Jobs Program For People Recovering From Addiction

Aug 8, 2018

A $4 million federal labor department grant will be used to create a new job training program for Rhode Islanders in recovery from opioid addiction.

The “recovery-friendly workplace Initiative,” announced Tuesday by Governor Gina Raimondo, will offer skills training and job opportunities for people with a history of substance use disorders, as well as guidance for employers seeking to create more supportive work environments for people in recovery.

“For many Rhode Islanders in recovery, a good job is essential to their recovery,’’ Raimondo said in a statement. “People who make a daily commitment to their recovery can make enormous contributions to our economy, and we need to encourage more employers to create recovery-friendly workplaces.’’

Rhode Island is one of six states – including New Hampshire – which received grants from the federal labor department that total more than $22 million. The grants are to be used for reemployment services for people impacted by the effects of widespread opioid use, addiction and overdose.  

Rhode Island College President Frank Sanchez and Dr. Susan Andrews, medical director for Electric Boat, will serve on an ad-hoc committee appointed by Raimondo to develop guidelines for designating businesses “recovery-friendly.”

The guidelines will be designed as a “how to” for employers about making workplaces more welcoming and supportive for people in recovery, according to a statement from the governor’s office. They’ll also offer specifics about helping employees attain long-term recovery.

Raimondo encouraged employers to follow her lead by hiring people in recovery.  Raimondo’s chief of staff, Brett Smiley, and her senior advisor, Tom Coderre, are both openly in recovery. (Coderre is currently serving as acting director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals while Director Becky Boss is on medical leave.)

“For so many of the people I’ve met and been to recovery meetings with, support from family and a good job are two of the most critical components of recovery,” Coderre said in a statement. “This new initiative will give more Rhode Islanders a shot at a good job and will help employers play an important role to change negative perceptions of addiction.”

The initiative follows the House Finance Committee’s rejection of a recommendation in the governor’s budget for fiscal 2019 of $400,000 in general revenues for a job training program for people in recovery. The program was to be paired with services such as substance use disorder counseling, recovery coaching or housing aid.