ONDCP Launches New Recovery Ready Workplace Toolkit

Posted on by Jamie C. Osborne, MPH, CHES®; L. Casey Chosewood, MD, MPH; John Howard, MD; Peter Gaumond


In 2022, approximately 110,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. At the same time, 46 million Americans aged 18 or older experienced a substance use disorder in 2022. Nearly two thirds of those people (30.1 million) were employed. The drug overdose epidemic is occurring in and impacting workplaces. Unintentional overdose from the nonmedical use of drugs resulted in 388 worker deaths in 2020, an increase of nearly 500 percent from 2012. It is now clearer than ever that employers can play a critical role in preventing drug-related deaths and helping workers access treatment and maintain recovery from substance use disorders.

Click here to open the toolkit.

That’s why, this past November, the federal government launched a new resource to help businesses be a part of the solution. The Recovery-Ready Workplace Toolkit: Guidance and Resources for Private and Public Sector Employers was released as the newest addition to the Recovery-Ready Workplace Resource Hub, hosted by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The toolkit provides information, tools, and resources to help employers across all industry sectors to effectively prevent and address substance use disorders in the workforce, hire people who are in or seeking recovery, and support recovery in the workplace.

The development of the Hub and toolkit was spearheaded by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Domestic Policy Council in collaboration with 12 federal departments and independent agencies, including NIOSH. They were developed in support of the fourth pillar of President Biden’s Unity Agenda for the Nation, addressing the opioid crisis and overdose epidemic, as well as the National Drug Control Strategy, which calls for the federal government to expand employment opportunities for people in recovery and encourage the adoption of recovery-ready workplace policies.

Recovery-ready workplace policies can provide numerous benefits including, but not limited to:

  • assisting employees in pursuing and maintaining recovery;
  • reducing substance-related injuries and work-related stress among employees;
  • reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, lost productivity, turnover, healthcare costs, and other costs associated with substance use disorders in the workforce;
  • helping retain skilled employees by providing access to treatment and a pathway to continued employment during treatment or a return to work following it; and
  • increasing employee engagement and morale.

Private businesses, non-profits, unions, trade associations, and state, local, and Tribal governments have an opportunity to build a recovery-ready nation. Cultivating recovery-ready workplaces and implementing recovery-ready workplace policies can result in a healthier, more productive workforce; reduced costs to employers; stronger employment and overall economy; and a more equitable society.

NIOSH continues to partner with other federal agencies and national organizations like the National Safety Council to develop and promote the full range of resources needed to prevent overdose deaths, including those that promote and support the availability of naloxone in workplaces; reduce stigma; expand access to affordable healthcare and quality, evidence-based treatment and resources for workers with substance use disorders; eliminate barriers to employment for people in recovery; and promote workplace supported recovery.

Read more about NIOSH’s efforts to address substance use and support recovery in the workplace:

When it comes to supporting recovery and beating the opioid crisis, businesses have a real opportunity to lead. How is your workplace striving to create a recovery-ready culture? Tell us more in the comments.


Jamie C. Osborne, MPH, CHES®, is a contractor with Advanced Technologies and Laboratories (ATL) International, Inc. serving as a Public Health Analyst with the NIOSH Office of the Director.

L. Casey Chosewood, MD, MPH, is Director of the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health.

John Howard, MD, is the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Peter Gaumond is a Senior Policy Analyst with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

Posted on by Jamie C. Osborne, MPH, CHES®; L. Casey Chosewood, MD, MPH; John Howard, MD; Peter Gaumond

4 comments on “ONDCP Launches New Recovery Ready Workplace Toolkit”

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    I wish to highlight a matter of utmost importance concerning the well-being and safety of our healthcare workforce, particularly in light of recent statistics that underscore the challenges faced by these dedicated professionals. Our commitment to creating recovery-ready workplaces is pivotal to the success and sustainability of our healthcare systems.

    In 2022, the prevalence of burnout among health workers reached an alarming rate, with nearly half reporting frequent burnout, a stark increase from 32% in 2018. Additionally, the intention to seek new employment among healthcare workers rose to 48% in 2022, up from 33% in 2018. Trust in management has also experienced a decline, with 78% of health workers expressing trust in 2022, compared to 84% in 2018. This drop in trust is more pronounced among healthcare workers than other essential workers, where trust declined to 77% in 2022 from 81% in 2018.

    Disturbingly, the mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers extend to an increased risk of suicide. Registered nurses are 64% more likely to commit suicide than their non-healthcare counterparts. Similar concerning trends are observed in other healthcare professions, with health technicians facing a 39% higher risk, physicians an 11% higher risk, and social and behavioral health workers a 14% higher risk.

    Moreover, the healthcare industry grapples with the burden of substance use disorder. According to the Journal of Clinical Nursing, approximately 20% of all nurses struggle with substance use disorder. Furthermore, 1 in 10 physicians will fall into substance use disorder at some point in their lives, mirroring the general population. Unfortunately, work environments (i.e. increased harassment, unsafe staffing, and increased overtime work) leave health care professions at risk for substance use disorder and mental illnesses.

    Research suggests that the current work schedules, particularly 12-hour shifts and work weeks exceeding 40 hours, may be harmful to both provider and patient health. The lack of accommodating and recovery-ready work schedules increases the risk of mental illness, substance use disorder, relapse, and co-morbidities. It is imperative that we recognize the need for flexible and supportive work hours to mitigate these risks and ensure the well-being of our healthcare workforce.

    Furthermore, it is crucial to note that not accommodating work schedules can be considered a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA mandates reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, including those related to mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Recognizing and implementing these accommodations not only comply with legal standards but also contribute to creating an inclusive and supportive workplace.

    To create truly recovery-ready workplaces, we must acknowledge the importance of accommodating work schedules, both as a moral imperative and a legal obligation. Health care workers require support and understanding from management to embrace these necessary changes, ultimately fostering an environment that not only protects the well-being of our healthcare professionals but also enhances the quality of patient care.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Coryn Mayer, BSN, RN

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and heartfelt reply. It’s an important reminder that the nation’s heath workers are experiencing unprecedented challenges to their well-being- many longstanding and many worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Difficult and often untenable working conditions, and long hours of physical and emotional labor can lead to injury, burnout and adverse mental health conditions among these vital workers. And the links you mention to substance use disorders under challenging work like this are sadly another critical threat to these caregivers.

    Our research shows that, when it comes to the well-being of its workers, the health system itself is broken. We recommend comprehensive, systemic change to address this crisis. Please see our recent blog on this topic Want to Improve the Well-Being of Health Workers? The System Itself Must Change.

    We’d also like to share information on our recently launched Impact Wellbeing campaign. It offers important first steps organizations can take to improve the work experiences and culture of support for these important workers.

    If you or someone you know are experiencing thoughts of suicide or are in emotional distress, please reach out to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline where counselors are available 24 hours/7 days a week.

    The well-being of health workers is vital not only for themselves, but also for the quality of care we provide to our patients. The well-being of health workers must be at the heart of our drive for improvements in the health sector.

    Mr. Mayer’s statistics are alarming. High attrition rates, increased turnover intentions and lack of trust are issues that require urgent attention. The challenges facing our health workers can also be occupational in nature. Factors such as high stress, long working hours and inadequate equipment can have a negative impact on both mental and physical health.

    Flexible and supportive working hours, as Mr. Mayer emphasized, are an important step. 12-hour shifts and working weeks exceeding 40 hours can jeopardize both workers’ health and patient safety. Alternatives such as part-time work, flexible hours and telecommuting options can provide work-life balance and reduce attrition.

    It is also worth remembering that there is an ethical and legal requirement to provide reasonable accommodations to employees under the ADA. This applies not only to mental health conditions and substance abuse, but also to other disabilities such as chronic diseases. Creating an inclusive and supportive work environment not only complies with the law, but also boosts employee morale and increases patient satisfaction.

    In conclusion, Mr. Mayer’s comment is a reminder that the well-being of healthcare workers must be prioritized. We need to take steps to protect both the physical and mental health of our workers by reviewing aspects such as work schedules, work environment and support systems. This is essential not only for the well-being of our workers, but also for higher quality patient care.

    Sophia Marie Turnier

    Thanks very much for expanding this important conversation.

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Page last reviewed: January 10, 2024
Page last updated: January 10, 2024