Forge in the News: Recovery Friendly Workplace program seeks to find jobs for those in recovery

  | SundayApril 8, 2018, 7:57 p.m.

It can be tough to get a job while in recovery from a drug addiction.

Sometimes it’s the stigma that can surround addiction. Other times, a criminal record might be a stumbling block.

“They can have a hard time getting jobs, sometimes their record,” said Tim Phillips, director of the Westmoreland County Drug Overdose Task Force. “They can’t pass clearances and things like that, so that’s prohibitive. This tends to haunt them.”

The task force hopes a few employers will step up to change that.

The group is launching a pilot program for an initiative that will connect those in recovery with potential employers. The Recovery Friendly Workplace program will involve specialized training and materials for staff members at participating employers about the basics of addiction and how to support people who are in recovery.

“It’s about breaking down the stigma,” Phillips said. “Just like if somebody has another disease.”

A couple of local employers have indicated to Phillips that they are considering the initiative, including Shane Brant who runs Brant’s Asphalt in the Greensburg area.

In the construction industry, it can sometimes be difficult to find drug-free employees, Brant said. He thinks the initiative is a good option to support potential employees and give them options.

The task force is seeking three and five companies to help start the program. The local initiative is being modeled after New Hampshire’s Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative.

Strive Health — which opened in October a treatment clinic in Greensburg — and its sister company, Veteran & First Responder Healthcare, are working with New Hampshire officials on their initiative.

“It’s kind of a way to get the business world involved and help people get back on their feet,” said Eric Golnick, chief executive officer of VFR Healthcare.

They hope to help people in recovery reintegrate into communities there while helping employers understand “that people in recovery are not going to harm their business,” Golnick said.

“Recovery is a disease of isolation … and that includes at your workplace,” said Eric Golnick, CEO of Veterans & First Responders Healthcare, “If you support them, they’re going to be valuable assets to your company.”


“Recovery is a disease of isolation … and that includes your work,” he said. “If you support them, they’re going to be valuable assets to your company.”

Strive Health spokesman Mitchell Miller said the program could decrease the rate of relapse, which can be affected by the stigma surrounding addiction and inability to find a stable job.

“Without a program like this, it is hard to reassure employers just because there is a bias,” Miller said. “The reassurance can be there if all the aspects of peoples’ lives are in concert here.”

Local employers interested in applying for the initiative, should to complete an online intent form. The employer will later be asked to submit a business portfolio. Applications must be approved.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, or via Twitter @byrenatta.