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Employers finding rehab beats firing for drug problems

BEAR board member Karl Kraync holds the award along with Rachel Pappas, a human resources employee with Morgantown, along with other Morgantown employees and BEAR members.

Sun Advocate reporter

Seeking out help for a drug problem in the workplace can be a tough mountain to climb for both employers and their employees. One option may just be terminating the employee and moving on with another. But now with the help of a local group, businesses have another avenue to help their employees and themselves at the same time.

Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) has worked diligently for two years to bring the Drug Prevention Program to businesses. The program lasts two hours and involves employees listening and speaking to someone who has been through a recovery program.

They have made huge steps in the right direction, which is to help employers keep employees on board, said Delores Roberts, business outreach specialist with BEAR. The BEAR program offers an alternative path for employers to take with the higher cost of having to train a new employee compared to help one that is seeking to improve their life through the program.

"The education part of the presentation helps not only the businesses, but also the employees' families. When push came to shove, the presentation by the recovering addict really hits you at home. It was wonderful to see these young people who had put themselves through the drug world hell to now be recovering and living positive, productive lives," Roberts said.

During the past week, BEAR members presented awards to two local businesses for their participation and completion of the program.

Echo Industries, 1422 W 1955 N, was presented with an award for its participation in a comprehensive alcohol and drug education program. They were one of the first businesses to sign up for the program last year.

Going through the program is an investment in the employee, said Greg Ferderber, owner of Echo Industries. Training an employee can take up to a year and some of the current employees at Echo Industries have been there for five years.

"Any way we can help our employees, it helps us too," Ferderber said. "Almost every employee has mentioned being very appreciative towards the training they received through the BEAR program."

Over the course of the year, the Drug Addiction Education Effort, in partnership with Four Corners Behavioral Health and the BEAR Project, have done 23 presentations with local businesses with a total of 1,003 people participating, Roberts said.

The hard hitting nature of the presentation helps drive home the effects an addiction can have on a person's life, both in the workplace and at home, Ferderber said.

"It puts the nail right where it needs to go," he said. "It hammers home the point. Those people have been in the bowels of life and they pulled themselves out of it. It's so cool to take somebody who needs help to make them productive employees and citizens as well."

Another business that was presented with an award was Morgantown Machine and Hydraulics of Utah Inc, 610 Industrial Rd, in Helper. The business and its 35 employees also underwent training through the BEAR program.

"Safety is a top priority for the company," said Rachel Pappas, human resources employee with Morgantown. "Without a doubt the training was very informative, straightforward and to the point. The people involved with the BEAR program have been excellent to work with."

The BEAR program and those involved with it are looking to continue with getting as many businesses in the community as possible involved with the program, Roberts said.

"We plan on an ongoing effort, working towards presenting to as many businesses that want this presentation," Roberts said.

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