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Media Alert: CCRC Launches Peer Support Program for Addiction Recovery Workforce in Austin


November 1st, 2022

Chicago, IL -CRCC, a nonprofit Recovery Community Organization based in Chicago, recently launched an innovative peer recovery support program for uninsured and high-risk young people and adults struggling with substance use disorders in Austin, IL. The program, funded by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), aims to help participants establish a substance-free and independent life by enhancing recovery outcomes, life skills, and connections to job placement and training.

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Westside of Chicago had more than three times the number of drug-related emergency room admissions as any other part of the city, the second largest number of alcohol-related emergency room admissions and the highest number of inpatient alcohol and substance abuse treatment admissions in Chicago. The Department also notes that the opioid epidemic is the most significant public health and public safety crisis facing Illinois. Economic research has found a strong link between rising opioid prescriptions and declining workforce participation rates across the nation, estimating that nearly half of men aged 25 to 54 who are not in the workforce take pain medication daily. Research also shows that there is a higher rate of absenteeism among opioid users who work.

According to the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board Strategic Plan, the state has been moving toward aligning the workforce, education, and economic development since 2003. Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Illinois is working to create innovative work-based learning opportunities for both businesses and job seekers. Unfortunately, these efforts do not include people in recovery and recovery stakeholders in ensuring this community can obtain gainful employment.

CRCC’s Executive Director, Dora Dantzler-Wright, said, “There is a critical gap to ensure employers and recovering employees come together to meet the challenges of finding, training, and retaining workers amidst the Illinois addiction crisis. Through this program, we hope to address the skills gap, strengthen the connection between employers and the talent they need to stay and grow in Illinois and boost the productivity of businesses throughout the state.”

The program will achieve this by providing a comprehensive array of support services for 2,000 high-risk individuals over five years. These services include peer recovery support, job training and placement, life skills development, and sober social-recreational activities. The program is led by Certified Peer Recovery Coaches who have lived with experience in addiction recovery and work closely with participants to establish life goals and build resilience.

Under this program, entitled the Independent Living Program, CRCC will establish a statewide Recovery Workforce Network to enhance employment-based recovery support services and remove barriers that bar Illinois individuals in recovery from gainful employment. The network will work to:

  • Train employers to enhance their abilities to support their employees in accessing resources and treatment for substance use disorders;

  • Develop recovery-friendly workforce policies and culture;

  • Destigmatize addiction in the workplace;

  • Support efforts to develop solutions and retain employees; and

  • Support efforts to hire people in recovery.

Wright shared, “Due to the widespread addiction epidemic in the Austin area, we must address this problem now, so this high-risk population can find recovery and rebuild their lives. A critical component to sustaining long-term recovery is ensuring people participate in meaningful daily activities, such as a job, and have an independent income and resources to take part in society.”

To reach the program's goals, CRCC will partner with local treatment centers and recovery organizations, the TEECH Foundation, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, and the Recovery Business Alliance.

To sign up for services under this program contact us:

Chicago Recovering Communities Coalition

Direct: 773.417.2045 x205

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