As an employer looking to be more inclusive and grow your team, you may wonder how workplace addiction recovery programs work. Since we are so passionate about this area here at Chameleon Group, we decided to share our experiences with other like-minded employers.
Of course, much of our program’s success has been thanks to partnerships with organizations like the Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative and SOS (Strength Over Stigma) Recovery Community Organization. They have provided us with extensive resources and education so that we can provide a genuinely welcoming and inclusive workplace for those going through recovery.
Employers who are aware of recovery in the workplace and offer support for those battling substance use disorder (SUD) will experience many powerful benefits, such as:
We recently sat down with Eileen Lawton, a Recovery Friendly Workplace Coordinator with SOS, to share some behind-the-scenes insights. She discussed her experience working in the addiction recovery realm, what stands out about SOS, and inspiration from her time with the organization.
Read on to learn more about SOS and garner ideas for how your business can incorporate its workplace addiction recovery program.
We began by asking Eileen about SOS Recovery Community Organization and all that they offer.
“The mission of SOS Recovery Community Organization is to reduce the stigma and harm associated with substance use disorders by providing safe space and peer-based support for those impacted by SUD and offering them access to multiple paths of recovery,” Eileen explained.
SOS is a community-based peer organization operated by a small staff and mainly volunteers. These volunteers have firsthand knowledge and experience with SUD, so they understand the recovery journey and are passionate about improving their communities.
The nonprofit’s robust list of programs and services includes:
Curious about why and how Eileen began working with SOS, we asked what drew her to their cause.
“A family history of substance use disorder inspired me to begin working at SOS four years ago,” she said. “When I retired from a teaching career, I earned my Certified Recovery Support Worker certification and began working for SOS as the Recovery Friendly Workplace Coordinator.”
Eileen went on to describe the daily uplifting experiences of her role. “I’m inspired every day by the people I meet at SOS who have taken the courageous step toward getting well in the face of very difficult and often seemingly insurmountable circumstances.”
Additionally, Eileen highlighted why other recovery friendly employers’ participation in these programs is crucial.
“I am also heartened by the many companies in the tri-city area, like The Chameleon Group, who have become designated as Recovery Friendly Workplaces,” she continued. “The Chameleon Group was among the first to sign on to the initiative put in place by Governor Sununu in 2018.”
Expanding on her time partnering with Chameleon, Eileen said, “Their management team enthusiastically took on the training needed to support their employees and family members who are impacted by SUD. They offer resources and flexibility to affected employees and partner with SOS to provide them with weekly lunchtime meetings at their facility, which I have the honor of facilitating. I am also able to run a Journaling Group at Chameleon for interested employees.”
We’re grateful to have Eileen join us every Wednesday to provide open time for employees going through recovery or affected by addiction to find support and resources. This judgment-free listening ear and space have positively impacted our team.
Of course, nothing is quite as compelling as real-life experiences, so we asked Eileen to share a story of a specific (anonymous) person who has benefited from the SOS program.
“Hundreds of people visit our four centers every month. One that is memorable is a young man who came in a few years ago [and] was very anxious due to his drug use and charges pending against him in the criminal justice system. He was able to sit down for a few minutes and participate in a Journaling Group I was running.
“The man then asked to speak with a Recovery Support Specialist and began his journey in recovery. He was able to avoid going to jail by participating in Drug Court, a supervised court docket that provides a sentencing-alternative treatment. He later attended the AmeriCorps Program and became a Certified Recovery Support Worker. He was then hired by SOS as a Recovery Support Specialist and later tapped to run the Peer Strength Program and work with individuals impacted by SUD who are involved in the criminal justice system.”
This remarkable story is just one example of how with the right support system and resources, people with SUD can turn their lives around and, in turn, make a difference for others. Imagine the ripple effect your company could have with experienced partners to develop your workforce recovery efforts.
To wrap things up, we asked Eileen why others should choose to support SOS when there are so many incredible organizations related to addiction recovery.
“Substance Use Disorder is a disease—like cancer and diabetes are diseases,” Eileen said. “No one chooses the devastation it causes, and everyone affected deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and have access to the resources and support needed to recover and live a joyful and productive life.”
This perfectly sums up the SOS approach, which focuses on community involvement to help those struggling with substance misuse and those in recovery overcome challenges and become productive members of society.
A large part of this is accomplished through their peer-assisted recovery support. SOS peer support specialists often help individuals with the following:
…just to name a few!
SOS also partners with the Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative to empower a growing number of organizations to provide support for those in addiction recovery. The Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) received a one-time $1M appropriation to administer grant funds to nonprofits to deliver Recovery Friendly Workplace programming.
SOS was selected as one of these organizations, meaning they work closely with employers and their teams to implement workplace addiction recovery programs.
Above all, SOS focuses on creating a community for those affected by addiction—including individuals in recovery, loved ones of those in recovery, those who may still be struggling with substance misuse, and community allies. The organization aims to eliminate the stigma around SUD and ensure people get the support and treatment they need.
Are you interested in learning more about our partnership with SOS? Please contact us, and we’ll happily share what else has worked for our team!
Or, if you’re ready to implement a workplace addiction recovery program for your organization, reach out to SOS Recovery Community Organization to get started today. Both organizations have been wonderful to work with and have educated us significantly on how to effectively support our team members in recovery.