Should more Ohio companies offer drug treatment for employed addicts like these businesses?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) — When recovering addict Shawn clocks in for work, he does it with a grateful heart and appreciation for a living wage and a second chance.

“I got into an accident here, three months ago, which required a drug test … which I failed,” he said.

Despite 24 years of experience, that failed drug test was once cause for termination at the Belden plant in Richmond, Ind.

The nearly century-old cable manufacturer decided to send him to rehab through their insurance. They also decided to kept him employed.

“Over a two year period we saw almost a tripling of our failed drug screens,” said Leah Tate, vice president of HR at Belden.

The company was forecasting a need to hire because it was expecting one-third of its workforce to retire soon.

Belden teamed up with a local substance specialist to help them develop a pilot program, called Pathways to Employment.

Job candidates or current employees who fail drug tests are assessed, introduced to help, and then put on safety-conscious, light duty until they have enough clean screens to operate machinery.

The restaurant’s entire staff is in recovery. Addicts are trained in the front and back of the house and earn a living while they earn their sobriety through the Recovery Center of Medina County, under the same roof.

“This is the kind of creative approach that communities need to look at when you are fighting this horrible epidemic,” said Kipp Erwin.

He says his addiction kept him from keeping a job. He says working in a culture of recovery is a weight off his shoulders, no longer having to hide who he is.

“Other jobs that was always the big secret, whether I was in active addiction or not. It’s liberating,” he said.

“Not only do I earn a paycheck to provide for my family, pay the bills, but I have somebody there for me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he said.

Jessica Hazeltine, who runs the Recovery Center, believes the Belden program could work in office and industrial settings around Northeast Ohio.

“You just need to invest in people’s potential and the fact that there are more and more companies willing to do that is amazing,” she said.

Shawn is now six months sober, and back on the job as a wire drawer. He is glad that instead of firing him, his company wrapped their arms around him.

“They want to help me and they want to see me succeed and I want to do that for them too,” he said.

This content was originally published here.

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