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The Climb

How to Develop a Job Training and Reintegration Program

Nov 6, 2019 9:00:00 AM / by Sharon Leech

Under the best of circumstances, entering the job workforce can be an intimidating endeavor.  For those individuals in early recovery from substance use disorder (SUD), it can be overwhelming. In addition to coping with the challenges of maintaining early sobriety, these individuals are faced with securing a satisfying job that pays a living wage and can support their recovery efforts. They have most likely been out of the workforce for an extended period and might have a criminal record or are facing legal issues that create a barrier to finding gainful employment. Further, finding suitable affordable housing and establishing addiction recovery support services are critical to successfully maintaining employment.

At Ascension Recovery Services (Ascension), we are experienced in the development of programs to integrate these individuals back into society and the job market through a financially sustainable job training and workforce reintegration program specific to SUD. Our expertise includes providing job training and placement opportunities, securing safe and affordable housing options when needed, and connecting individuals with wrap around peer support services. Ascension believes those in recovery deserve the support necessary for a seamless and successful transition back into their communities, and we are here to help.  


Job reintegration combined with wrap around peer support recovery services is critical to maintaining lifelong sobriety. Reintegrate Appalachia is a stellar example of the success that can be achieved through a workforce reintegration program with recovery support services.  Ascension was instrumental in creating this one-of-a-kind non-profit workforce development project specifically designed for those recovering from SUD. Not only does this program integrate individuals in recovery back into the workforce, it also gives them opportunities for higher education such as trade degrees, professional development services, and hands-on experience, as well as an extensive addiction recovery monitoring program that allows them to receive clinical and peer support that is needed to maintain their new sobriety.

Without a trusted entity to facilitate the connection between those in recovery and the employer, a business owner may be hesitant to hire someone with SUD because of the risk of relapse.  Following are some of the services Ascension can facilitate to help alleviate an employer’s concerns:

  • Screen applicants for placement into recovery-friendly work environments
  • Ensure applicants with criminal backgrounds are not violent criminals
    • Violent criminals cannot participate in the program
  • Manage drug testing or counseling
    • Provide regular drug testing and ongoing support and counseling as needed
  • Supervise, monitor, and support employees in their recovery efforts
    • Ensure meeting attendance, maintaining sponsorship, medication compliance, etc.
  • Work to help maintain sobriety and assume any risk in the event of relapse
    • Quickly refill a position in the event of relapse or termination
  • Work closely with the employer to provide recommendations as needed
    • Offer suggestions for improvement or handle terminations if necessary

When hiring any new employees, a company always assumes a certain amount of risk.  However, by contracting with Ascension to monitor participants in recovery from SUD, employers mitigate any additional risk, real or perceived. 


In addition, Ascension can guide employees in securing safe and affordable housing when needed. Residential recovery homes provide the ideal setting for providing a caring and supportive environment to begin living a sober lifestyle and developing healthy new relationships. Further, participants are matched with a peer recovery coach (PRC) who will serve as a mentor and help them connect with others in recovery and with available resources such as 12-step meetings and support groups. Utilizing this approach allows participants to successfully integrate into their recovery community, find a sponsor, and develop meaningful relationships with their peers. PRCs add a layer of accountability for participants while assisting them in rebuilding fundamental life skills such as maintaining a budget, building a schedule, obtaining health insurance, and taking care of other basic needs.


Ascension has found social enterprise to be an invaluable resource for providing job placement opportunities for those in recovery. Social enterprises are typically dedicated to helping our most vulnerable populations lead productive lives and, in turn, providing a positive impact on their communities. A successful social enterprise is one that accomplishes its social mission by providing employment opportunities for at-risk individuals while maximizing productivity to ensure sustainability.  

Although profitability is not typically the motivating factor for a social enterprise, revenue is crucial to the sustainability of the business. At Ascension, we have been successful in promoting sustainability by:

  • Obtaining grant funding for start-ups or enhancing pilot program operations when applicable and available
  • Establishing a public-private partnership with shared risk and flexible reimbursement when working directly with a private employer (i.e., as a staffing agency service where we vet the employees to ensure a stable recovery and appropriate fit, with ongoing monitoring)


Private industries such as oil and gas, communications, construction, labor unions, etc. have vacancies in positions across the country. It is difficult to fill these vacancies because many applicants are unable to pass a drug test. Further, employers are fearful of the liability of hiring someone in recovery. Through our successful job reintegration and addiction monitoring program, Ascension is positioned to screen, recommend, and monitor individuals who are qualified to fill these positions.

Individuals who have chosen to overcome addiction and return as productive members of society deserve an opportunity for success. Ascension Recovery Services is recognized as an industry leader in developing financially sustainable job training and reintegration programs for those in recovery from SUD.  If you are interested in opening a program that can offer those in recovery a second chance, call today to discuss how Ascension can help. 



Topics: re-employment initiative, program development

Sharon Leech

Written by Sharon Leech

Sharon is a long-time resident of West Virginia and earned a master’s degree in education from WVU. In addition to teaching in the Morgantown school system, she is a licensed real estate agent. Sharon offers administrative support for the Program Development and Outreach teams at Ascension. She has enjoyed working on a variety of fund-raising events such as the Betty Puskar Breast Care Center fashion show, the WVU Cancer Center gala and Mon Health Ball of the Year, but she is most happy to be the adopted “house mom” for the wonderful residents at WV Sober Living. Sharon is the proud mom of Doug, Leila and Christy and beautiful grandson Dougie.

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