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Indiana's manufacturing industry receives financial help to respond to opioid epidemic

Hiring Hoosiers
Posted: 6:00 AM, Jun 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-07 14:04:37Z
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INDIANAPOLIS — The RX Abuse Leadership Initiative, also known as RALI Indiana, has awarded a $45,000 grant to the Indiana Manufacturers Association to respond to the opioid epidemic. This is a new push to battle the opioid epidemic and addiction crisis in the workplace, specifically the manufacturing industry.

The goal is to keep Hoosiers hired in an industry in which more than 550,000 people are employed just on the production level.

"I was in prison for methamphetamine, I was an addict," Shelly Maness, of Rochester, who is now employed with RecycleForce in Indianapolis, said.

Just in January 2019 alone, about 267 Hoosiers were incarcerated because of possession or dealing of drugs, according to an Indiana Department of Correction February 2019 report .

LEARN MORE | RALI Indiana

Maness knows what that life is like, as she was in prison for dealing methamphetamine. She is now on a new clean path of her life, thanks to an employer, RecycleForce, who gave her a second chance.

"There are so many of us out there," Maness said. "They know what you have done, they want to give you that chance that no one else is wanting to."

The opportunity Maness got at RecycleForce is what RALI Indiana is aiming for in the state's manufacturing industry, but with an effort to tackle the addiction problem before the employee has to leave the workforce.

"Because if it is you are only doing a drug test after you have had an incident, or an accident, you are a little bit behind the times," Andrew Berger, senior vice president for governmental affairs at the Indiana Manufacturers Association, said. "Even if a person is not on a regular drug testing program anytime you can identify an issue before you have a problem with the workforce, in the workplace is a good thing."

This grant from RALI to the IMA is to keep Hoosiers hired in the state's largest industry.

"It is an industry that is growing so we need more workers, we need skilled workers," Berger said.

LEARN MORE | Indiana Manufacturers Association

The state's legislature created a bill for a type of second chance program. RALI Indiana awarded this $45,000 grant to the IMA to equip this industry with resources to tackle the problem of addiction in the workplace, since employers spend a majority of time with people struggling with these issues.

"When an employee or a new hire would fail a drug test, they wouldn't be dismissed, they would be able to stay employed so long as they entered into a drug treatment program," Berger said. "Part of the grant with RALI is conducting business not just for the structure to those programs, the best practices that some companies in Indiana are already doing. But also connecting them to the state resources and probably most importantly, the local treatment options that they have."

The RALI Indiana grant will fund addiction education in the workplace and provide other tools that will allow Indiana employers to further aid employees affected by addiction.

"These employers, the reality is, they are going to be able to see unusual activity as it relates to their employees probably first, whether they show up to work late, or they are missing assignments," Roger Harvey, a spokesperson for RALI Indiana, said. "This toolkit will help the employers identify the problem with employees and get them help so they can stay employed and stay an active member of society."

The grant money has allowed RALI Indiana and the Indiana Manufacturers Association to create a digital toolkit and website specifically designed for employers within the manufacturing industry to offer guidance on how to identify and address substance misuse. It is a starting point to change in this statewide issue affecting not only the workforce, but Hoosier families.

"Most of it is going to be private dollars, I mean, so the $45,000 is leverage to get people the knowledge and to let them know what is out there," Berger said. "And this is what we are going to use the money for. But in the need, to answer your specific question of what will make a difference, is if the companies commit the resources themselves. There are some good examples like that, but not enough and that is why we need to do this work."

The tool kits are currently rolling out into Indiana Manufacturing companies statewide. The grant also includes 5,000 drug disposal pouches to the Indiana Manufacturers Association to curb unsafe disposal of unused prescription medications.

For more information about RALI Indiana, the fight against Indiana's opioid epidemic and how to safely dispose of unused medication, visit www.rali-in.org .