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NH workplaces, R.I. sign on to recovery plan

State House Bureau

March 27. 2018 11:55PM
Sarah Rollins, an employment specialist with Granite Pathways, talks about the Recovery Friendly Workplace at a national launch for the program Tuesday at the State House. (Dave Solomon/ Union Leader)

CONCORD — The Recovery Friendly Workplace initiative launched on March 1 by Gov. Chris Sununu is being adopted by Rhode Island and could spread to other states.

At a State House news conference attended by many of the business leaders who have already adopted the program in New Hampshire, Sununu said the Granite State has extended an invitation to any state that wants to sign on, and is willing to share the website domains, logos and regulatory guidance at no cost.

“I think something like 25,000 employees to date are already working for recovery-friendly workplaces in New Hampshire,” said Sununu. “That says something about where this is going to go and the power behind it.”

Since launching the initiative three weeks ago, Sununu said he has heard of interest from other states and national employers like Walmart.

“Walmart is a good example of a company that has jumped on board and is going to study to see if it can be done nationally,” he said. “We have had a lot of interest very quickly. We’ve had experts from across the country ask us how it works and bringing more ideas to the table.”

Sununu said he discussed the idea with several governors at the recent national governor’s conference, and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo “jumped on board.”

“We’re working hard in Rhode Island to change negative public attitudes about addiction, and I’m proud to be part of this initiative,” said Raimondo in a statement. “We’re going to help employers be a part of the solution by creating a recovery-friendly culture and moving the conversation about addiction into the workplace to give people a better chance at a fresh start.”

Businesses participating in the program will display a “Recovery Friendly” logo, signaling that they are receptive to hiring people in recovery from substance use disorders. The graphics were designed at no cost to the program by Montagne Communications of Manchester, which is willing to share the work nationally.

16 more companies sign on

The list of early adopters in New Hampshire has more than doubled since the launch three weeks ago, Sununu said.

Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare and the New Hampshire Hospital Association are among 16 additional companies who have signed on recently, joining the 12 original organizations that include the state of New Hampshire, Walmart and Turbocam.

Sarah Rollins, an employment specialist with Granite Pathways, was among the speakers encouraging more businesses to sign up.

Rollins, who was featured in a March 1 segment of the NBC Nightly News, told her story of addiction and recovery, and how she has since helped many businesses create recovery-friendly workplaces.

“I work with people in recovery, do resumes, haircuts, interviews, whatever I can do to break down barriers, and I work with employers, offering training to help them cultivate a community that is safe, supportive and recovery-friendly,” she said. “I would encourage any employers interested or any people in recovery looking for work to reach out.”

Sununu said the opioid addiction epidemic is both a public health and economic crisis, costing the state more than $2 billion so far, mostly in lost productivity. There is a financial incentive for businesses to participate, he said, in addition to social responsibility.

“It’s about profitability; and it’s about dignity,” he said. “You can have both. They are not mutually exclusive.”

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