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People in recovery from substance use disorder can be among your most reliable and dedicated employees. The fact that they have been able to make the transition from substance use disorder to recovery speaks to their commitment, to their development of skills to help them sustain recovery, and to the supports they have in place. As an employer, you do not need to be alone in your effort to adopt recovery-ready workplace policies. Your state government, chamber of commerce, or local community-based organizations may already have a recovery-ready/recovery-friendly workplace initiative, or may be willing to work with you to develop one with support from other states, chambers of commerce, or community-based organizations that have already implemented such initiatives. Additionally, independently of a broader local or state-level initiative, as an employer, you can establish partnerships with local treatment providers, recovery community organizations, recovery residences, and social service providers who may be able to support new hires in recovery and employees returning to the workplace following treatment.

Two approaches to hiring and recruiting people in recovery employers may want to consider are Individual Placement and Support, an evidence-based supported competitive employment model, and second-chance protocols. Both are effective tools for building and maintaining a strong and effective, recovery-ready workplace.

Initially developed to help people with mental health conditions, the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment has begun to be utilized to support other groups, including people with physical disabilities and people who are in recovery from SUD. This UNDER IPS, an individual in early recovery is paired with a specially trained employment specialist who develops relationships with prospective employers and jointly supports the employee and employer for as long as is necessary to ensure successful employment. The employment specialist can be headquartered in a substance use disorder treatment program or in another setting. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, many states, and non-profit organizations offer IPS.

“Second chance” hiring and employment protocols can also be an effective means of building and maintaining a strong and effective workforce and are a key tool for achieving a recovery-ready workplace. The State of Indiana developed a protocol that can be found in the Indiana Substance Use Treatment Law HEA 1007 Employer Guidelines. The Sample Second Chance Hiring & Employment Protocol flowchart below was adapted from that protocol.

Sample Second Chance Hiring & Employment Protocol

Second chance hiring and Employment Protocol

Adapted from Indiana Substance Use Treatment Law HEA 1007 Employer guidelines, May 2019