Award-Winning Model to Help Employers Support Workers and Applicants Battling Addiction Now Available Across Indiana

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Hoosier employers looking to implement recovery programs to assist their employees or qualified applicants battling addiction now have access to an award-winning model recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor.

This new partnership with Centerstone, a mental health and addiction treatment services provider, is the next step in offerings for Indiana Workforce Recovery, the initiative formed two years ago by the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) and Indiana Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Gov. Eric Holcomb. The group’s mission is to combat the opioid epidemic through educating and guiding employers on steps they can take to help their workforce.

Building on its decades of work helping people with substance use issues, Centerstone created the Workforce Investment Program to assist employees and employers around the nation. In 2017, Centerstone worked with Belden to co-produce the award-winning Pathways to Employment program in Richmond.

Since that time, Centerstone has integrated lessons learned to enhance its Workforce Investment Program, which is now being offered through Indiana Workforce Recovery to employers throughout the state for the first time. 

This is hands-on direction and consultation for employers who want it and are ready to implement recovery programs. Among what Centerstone provides: evidence-based solutions, vetted treatment partners in an employer’s local area and quality of care team to offer support throughout the process.

Mike Thibideau

“We all know those good workers are hard to find and retain. An increasing dilemma has been what to do about quality employees or prospects who test positive on a drug test or alcohol assessment. Or how to help a worker who comes forward on their own, while also protecting the business,” says Mike Thibideau, director of Indiana Workforce Recovery.

“Today, more employers are willing to provide that second chance to these workers – they just need guidance to make that happen. That’s why we believe this exclusive partnership with Centerstone is a real game-changer for companies and their workforce — both in helping to turn lives around and to keep valued employees working.”

Robb Backmeyer, chief operating officer at Centerstone, states, “Our Workforce Investment Program provides employers with the practical tools and framework they need to help tackle the issues that arise when current or prospective employees face substance use issues.

Robb Backmeyer

“Through our decades of expertise and thanks to our partnership with Belden, we know that when employers take the time to help their employees, they can onboard and retain good talent and continue to grow.”

Through the Belden’s Pathways to Employment program, the company has been able to retain or hire 34 individuals who otherwise would not be employed there.

“These are people who are highly skilled, who want to make a change in their lives for the better but need support. We are able to help them in that journey while meeting a business need to address the shortage of available workers,” says Leah Tate, vice president of human resources at Belden.

Leah Tate

“We are thrilled to see the Belden Blueprint be leveraged with other employers and communities facing similar challenges. As we’ve experienced, it can make a real difference in your workforce culture.”

All businesses that complete Centerstone’s Workforce Investment Program will have internal policies and protocols that are in compliance with Indiana’s new substance use and treatment law, which provides civil liability protections and the ability to partake in wage assignments for participating employers.

Interested employers can go to to go through a checklist to gauge their readiness, request a conversation with Centerstone and review the full list of what businesses will receive. They can also register for the first employer training session on the Workforce Investment Program; which takes place on March 24 at the Indiana Chamber conference center in downtown Indianapolis.

Thibideau reports that, through the end of 2019, Indiana Workforce Recovery has provided in-person education to nearly 3,000 employers and employees. The employer guidelines, developed in coordination with the state, have been downloaded more than 1,000 times over the last six months of the year, as have related educational videos. Indiana Workforce Recovery has also distributed more than 40,000 prescription disposal kits.