Jobless Benefit from Project
By Crystal Baity
Faculty in East Carolina University’s School of Allied Health Sciences will use a Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust grant to pilot a program to help unemployed recovering substance abusers find jobs.
Project Working Recovery will provide a cost-effective and innovative means to increase employment of individuals with substance abuse issues. It will be implemented within the ECU Department of Rehabilitation Studies. Project co-directors are Assistant Professors Paul J. Toriello and Steven R. Sligar.
“Research has shown that a majority of adults who enter substance abuse treatment are unemployed or under-employed. This is particularly the case in rural eastern North Carolina,” Toriello said.
With more than $240,000 in start-up funding from the grant, the program will initially serve 792 PORT Human Services methadone clinic clients who are indigent, unemployed and uninsured. PORT is a private, non-profit behavioral health care agency based in Greenville serving 13 eastern North Carolina counties, according to its Web site.
“We are very excited about partnering with PORT. They have been leading North Carolina in providing quality substance abuse treatment services for a long time,” Toriello said.
Project Working Recovery will provide clients 30 hours of outpatient employment counseling using the “Working It Out” curriculum and motivational interviewing. “Working It Out” is a multi-session, computer-based, self-administered employment tool developed to address varied employment needs of substance abuse clients. The program addresses lack of motivation for employment, career interests, job search skills, work-related stress tolerance, time and money management skills and long-term employment issues such as maintaining recovery and balancing work and recovery.
“Addressing these issues in conjunction with motivational interviewing will add a person-centered, empathic communication strategy that research has shown to be effective in motivating substance abuse clients to change,” Toriello said.
“Project Working Recovery services represent an innovative combination of interventions to address a critical aspect of addiction recovery. Employment is one of the strongest predictors of sustained recovery, yet it is often under-addressed in substance abuse treatment,” Toriello said.
Specific goals include: 70 percent of adults who start the program will complete it; each will apply for an average of seven jobs and attend three job interviews; 63 percent of clients who complete Project Working Recovery will obtain gainful employment; 56 percent of those workers will still be employed at a 90-day follow-up; and 49 percent will still be employed at 180-day follow-up. Local fee-for-services contracts will be secured so the project can be sustained at the end of three-year grant period.