The Benefits of “Recovery Friendly” Workplaces for Individuals With Addiction

Recovery friendly workplaces (RFW) in New Hampshire are welcoming individuals in recovery to rejoin the workforce in a stable, healthy environment. These companies understand the immense emotional and mental strength of populations overcoming SUD and hope to provide jobs to those who may face discrimination elsewhere.

What Is a Recovery Friendly Workplace?

The Recovery Friendly Workplace website defines RFWs as companies that “support their communities by recognizing recovery from substance use disorder as a strength and by being willing to work intentionally with people in recovery” and “encourage a healthy and safe environment where employers, employees, and communities can collaborate to create positive change and eliminate barriers for those impacted by addiction.”

The RFW Initiative provides interested business partners with resources to support employees who are recovering from a substance use disorder. Individuals in recovery require unique emotional and mental support, but their recovery does not impede their drive or competency in the workplace. The RFW Initiative recognizes the needs of a population in recovery and strives to assist both prospective employees and their employers through education, funding, and community support.

Interested companies can contact the RFW Initiative to secure information on the program. When accepted as a partner, companies are assigned a Recovery Friendly Advisor (RFA) who integrates recovery-friendly practices into the workplace. RFAs will organize training sessions related to addiction, substance abuse, and healthy behaviors, synthesizing the expectations of the company and the needs of employees in recovery in a helpful seminar.

The RFW Initiative will “assist businesses with participating in public awareness and education events in their communities. These events build loyalty between the recovery community, their allies and the designated RFW.” This state-funded program strives to provide structure and support for those looking to reintegrate into society.

The RFW Initiative is specific to New Hampshire, but companies across the nation can implement their recovery-friendly policies based on the philosophy of the RFW Initiative and other institutions like Supported Employment, an intervention program designed for those struggling with severe mental illness, and recovery high schools, public schools in which students in recovery can earn a diploma.

What Should a RFW Look Like?

Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD, and Siva Sundaram, BA, of the Harvard Health Blog suggest five practices to foster a recovery-friendly environment in the workplace: readily available counseling, mandatory peer support groups, an understanding supervisor, medication-assisted treatment, and drug testing and telepsychiatry.

A demanding work schedule combined with fear of judgment, unfamiliarity with the process, and lack of funding may deter an individual from seeking treatment; however, when mental health practices are included in mandatory workday activities, those in recovery can receive the help they need.

On-site resources like talk therapy and medically assisted therapy provide workers with constant access to necessary services, thereby promoting their recovery and encouraging their progress. Supervisors equipped with relevant knowledge and expertise are important fixtures in a RFW.

They monitor the use of company-provided resources and serve as allies to those in recovery. Rather than punish addiction, supervisors should assist employees, guiding them toward therapy and other treatment options. Employees in trade industries–namely construction–comprise the highest percentage of opioid-related deaths per year, followed by those working in farming, forestry, food service, and health care, according to Schuman-Olivier and Sundaram.

Their suggestions for a RFW reflect the needs of the trade industry population, but these practices can benefit recovering employees working in any field. All companies and businesses benefit from proficient and professional staffers. Providing mental health resources to workers will boost morale, increase productivity, and yield higher profits.

Why Do We Need RFWs?

Companies and employees both suffer losses at the hands of substance use disorder. In Massachusetts, businesses lose nearly $2.5 billion annually to decreased rates of employee productivity and $5.9 billion to rates of no productivity from a population that is deemed unfit to work due to addiction.

When treated improperly, individuals in recovery perform poorly, costing the company money, and, much more importantly, harming their mental and physical state. Across the country, millions of Americans struggle with addiction and are unable to work due to their SUD.

When treatment options are introduced in the workplace, addiction will no longer be a barrier to employment. Companies reap the benefits of a healthy, happy workforce and employees enjoy independence and sobriety. According to Schuman-Olivier and Sundaram, “people in recovery from opioid use disorder commonly describe their core recovery goals as needing to keep busy, to achieve financial self-sufficiency, and to recapture the dignity of being a working member of society.”

Establishing a RFW not only improves the financial situation of a company but also enriches the lives of employees in recovery. When workers have access to critical resources, they can lead successful and sober lives.

At Silver Lining Recovery, we want to walk beside you as you address your emotional or mental disorders, providing you with the support you need as you combat co-occurring problems like substance abuse disorder. You deserve the care and support necessary to end substance reliance and reintegrate into professional and social life. Your health is our priority and we want to provide you with the tools you need to sustain self-care in a balanced and fulfilling life. We will also accommodate any financial needs though Health Net insurance services. If you are interested in taking control of your life, call us today at (866) 884-5758 for a consultation.

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