A new Kentucky program is asking businesses to overlook the stigma of addiction when hiring or retaining employees.
Faced with a low workforce participation rate and a high rate of drug abuse, the state recently launched the Opioid Response Program for Businesses. The initiative will work with employers to provide free audits of human resources policies and identify how companies can better assist employees through recovery.
Beth Davisson heads the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center and says the goal of the new program is to change the culture to treat addiction like any other illness.
“If you have an employee who has diabetes or cancer, employers know exactly how to respond and support employees in that instance," explained Davisson. "Employers need those same tools to help support employees to get better.”
Davisson says a job is part of the recovery process because as people become unemployed, they’re more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
The program is open to both small and large businesses. The initiative is being paid for through a $350,000 grant from the Office of Drug Control Policy and matching funds from public and private donors.