New initiative takes aim at Kentucky’s addiction crisis

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – A new program announced Tuesday involving the business community, as well as state government and non-profits, hopes to address Kentucky’s addiction crisis and provide support to Kentuckians impacted by substance use.


The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentuckiana Health Collaborative and Kentucky Opioid Response Effort are partners in the launch of the Kentucky Transformational Employment Program.


KTEP is a new, voluntary initiative to help employers find and retain the workforce they need to support and grow their businesses, while giving more Kentuckians the opportunity to access treatment and achieve remission and recovery from substance use disorders.  Businesses taking part in KTEP will help facilitate assessment and treatment for employees with substance use disorders.


Participating agencies say it will be a catalyst for life-changing outcomes among people impacted by substance use, helping to reduce stigma in the workplace related to addiction, treatment and recovery.  It will also strengthen Kentucky’s economy by increasing the number of employable individuals and improving talent retention at a time when the state has historically low workforce participation rates, among the worst in the nation.


“The Kentucky Transformational Employment Program is about connecting people with the treatment resources they need to be healthy,” said Van Ingram, director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.  “We see a real opportunity for this program to do some good, and we encourage employers across Kentucky to make a positive impact in their communities.  Stable employment is a critical component of long-term recovery and can provide Kentuckians with the purpose and motivation they might need to stay in remission and get their lives back.”


KTEP is the result of legislation passed by the 2020 General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear to foster economic opportunities for individuals impacted by substance use and to facilitate access to substance use disorder treatment.


“Kentucky’s business community has long sought to be part of the solution for the terrible addiction crisis impacting our Commonwealth, and thanks to the Kentucky Transformational Employment Program we now have a defined and viable pathway to do so,” said Sherri Craig, vice president of public policy at CHI Saint Joseph Health.  “KTEP also helps employers address another critical challenge: finding and retaining quality employees.”


“Kentucky currently ranks 48th nationwide for workforce participation, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this problem,” said LaKisha Miller, executive director of the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center.  “Research shows that when the nation’s unemployment rate increases by just one percent, the opioid overdose death rate rises by 3.6 percent.  With the launch of the Kentucky Transformational Employment Program, we have one more tool to address this problem.”


To ensure the program is working as intended, data will be collected on a regular basis from participating employers.  More information, including training resources for employers and a form for businesses to sign up for the program, can be found online at kentuckycomeback.com/KTEP.

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