Monday, September 11, 2023

'Recovery-friendly' employers can help both those healing from addiction and the broader community

Cafes and catering businesses can offer flexibility and
support for people in recovery. (Photo by K8, Unsplash)
By providing a job and a supportive structure for people transitioning into drug-free living, employers are helping their broader community, reports Kristi Eaton of The Daily Yonder. "Rural communities ravaged by substance misuse could benefit from people in recovery being active members of the local workforce, say experts in criminal justice, substance misuse, and labor studies." Sometimes called "second-chance workplaces," these businesses offer employment and a place of meaning without drugs.

Kristina Brant, assistant professor of Rural Sociology at Pennsylvania State University, told Eaton, "[These are] employers hoping to adopt specific policies and practices that are going to be supportive of people who are in recovery from substance use disorder. They want to create an environment that's structurally and culturally going to help people in recovery thrive." Eaton adds, "Stable and meaningful employment is a goal for many people in recovery – not everyone, but many people, she said."

Drug misuse recovery can be harder in rural places because of stigma and a culture of "everybody knows everybody's business." Eaton reports, "Being in recovery can still hurt peoples' chances at getting a job, acquiring a place to live and even making friendships, Brant said. . . . Logistics also play a role. Someone in treatment court may be required to attend court several times a week, and a recovery-friendly workplace would be conducive to that."

Black Sheep logo
Some business models are flexible and can adjust to addiction recovery needs. "Brant said there are many examples of recovery-friendly workplaces. Cafes are popular options. One example is Black Sheep Brick Oven Bakery and Catering, located in Jackhorn, Kentucky," Eaton reports. "The restaurant hires. . . folks emerging from incarceration created by the opioid crisis." Brant told Eaton: "You're serving this dual purpose of creating a place that people know will be a supportive work environment, but also bringing something positive to the community. I think that's a really nice model to focus on."

Douglas Swanson, associate extension professional in the Labor & Workforce Development Program at the University of Missouri Extension, said, "Rural communities and employers have greater challenges due to the shallower pools of available workers." Swanson told Eaton: "You can't hire workers who aren't there. This dynamic puts rural employers in the position of needing to look at the potential an employee may have instead of their past."

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