HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Elected officials and community leaders gathered in Holyoke Friday to champion a local program that is changing lives.

The program is geared toward employers and educates them on how to be a resource for their employees who are dealing with addiction and substance use disorders. 15-million people in the American workforce right now are struggling with substance use disorders.

What 22News heard from people speaking is a huge number of those workers are not seeking help because they are afraid of losing their job or being judged by their peers and bosses. State Senator John Velis has just been named the chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, & Recovery and emceed the event as a strong supporter.

“The three hardest words for a human being to say are, I need help. So if they do that, a lot of times it’s going to be to their employer. How that employer responds determines if that person gets help or not.”

A Recovery Ready Workplace is one that acknowledges and openly addresses employee experience with substance misuse and recovery. It educated employees about addiction, available treatment, and recovery options and it offers support to people impacted.

There are a number of positive consequences of operating your business this way, proven increased retention, greater productivity, and lower healthcare cost. The most meaningful is the life-changing impact you can have on a human being in your life.