Session offers employers info on addiction

An upcoming day-long ceremony led by Indiana Workforce Recovery will help employers learn more about the state’s drug problem and how it’s affecting the ability to find a quality workforce.

The session will be from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. March 3 at the Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave. There is no charge to attend.

The seminar’s origin is a 2018 bill signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb that calls for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration to create best practice guidelines to help employers.

“Nearly 800,000 Hoosiers have used illicit drugs in the past month, so the need is definitely there,” said Mike Thibideau, director of Indiana Workforce Recovery. “The knowledge, experience and resources gained in these sessions will help employers address the full spectrum of addiction issues from recreational marijuana to severe opioid dependence.”

While much has been done in the Columbus to help those seeking recovery options, there has not been much attention on how addictions are hurting employers, according to Doug Leonard, executive director of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County.

Managers and owners realize they are competing for a small group of people in this time of high employment, and too many applicants either have a substance abuse problem or can’t pass a drug test, Leonard said. As a result, some firms have reported experiencing up to a 500% turnover annually.

What this program will do is present a number of different models used in different places that have been successful in helping companies deal with employee addictions, Leonard said.

At the session, participants will receive strategies for intervention, assistance and retention. Legal guidance for navigating regulations will be provided that include the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Indiana Substance Abuse Treatment Law.

Organizers say those in attendance will have the chance to learn best practices for effective partnership with regional treatment and recovery support agencies, as well as real-life examples of success and empathy exercises. They also will receive a base level of technical knowledge and resources to manage the immediate impact of substance misuse on their current and future workforce.

Up to 1,000 complementary prescription disposal kits will be distributed. An optional segment on administering naloxone in an overdose emergency will be offered.

While the seminar is free, registration is preferred. Companies may register at (under upcoming events).

The seminar is being presented in conjunction with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, Community Health Network, IU Health, Parkview Health, St. Vincent Ascension the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the Vectren Foundation and the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Although the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce is not handling registration for the March 3 event, they have provided a link on their webpage. 

  • Go to
  • Under Events, click on "All Events"
  • Use the calendar to go to March 3
  • Click on the name of the event in the March 3 calendar box.
  • At the bottom of the page, click on "Register For This Free Event"