CLEVELAND - A Cleveland organization is helping put recovering addicts to work in an effort to fight the growing employment issues left in the wake of the opioid epidemic.
“I would look for work but people don’t want to give you an opportunity,” recovering addict Eugene Fahey told News 5.
Fahey’s struggle with opioid addiction and finding employment brought him to Recovery Resources in Cleveland after his release from jail in January.
Recovery Resources treats patients with co-occurring mental health and addiction problems. The organization’s RecoveryWorks program employs and trains people who are recovering from addiction and working to managing mental illness.
“It saved my life,” Fahey said. “When you have a substance abuse problem, keeping busy and support are the two main things you need.”
Fahey was pronounced dead after a massive overdose last summer. He survived but said his constant struggle to find employment landed him back in trouble soon after.
“This is the first time someone’s giving me an opportunity,” he said.
Fahey works in the lawn care division. Other services include car detailing, janitorial and office cleaning, assembly and packaging and labeling.
Garry Miles also mows lawns. He’s been sober for nine months, a huge accomplishment after decades of drug addiction.
“I wasn’t employable, I wasn’t,” Miles said, who started using cocaine at the age of 15.
A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that it’s an issue that affects the entire community.
The paper found that as the unemployment rate increases by one percentage point, the rate of fatal opioid overdoses increased by more than 3 percent. Emergency-room visits increase by 7 percent.
“I can only take, take, take,” Miles said. “I don’t want to be a taker anymore.”
Now Miles and Fahey are giving back and getting paid for it. They’re proud to be able to support themselves and their families.
“It’s a good feeling, I mean to tell you, a great feeling,” Fahey said.