RICHMOND - As opioid addiction issues continue to ravage Hoosier communities and the workforce, a global manufacturer with multiple Indiana locations is offering rehabilitation assistance for potential employees who fail pre-hiring drug screenings. Belden, which has had a longtime presence in Richmond, has launched Pathways to Employment in response to a tripling of drug test failures and an ongoing need for talent. Vice President of Human Resources Leah Tate says more than two-thirds of the 23 that joined the program since the beginning of the year are still with it, and nine have even moved forward to jobs that involve operating machinery.

During an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Tate told Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta the program, which is only offered in Wayne County, has the potential to grow. "We believe that in order for us to really address the addiction issues that we have to work together with corporations, state and federal governments, in order to address the problem," she said. "We're happy to share the program we've put together, we feel like it's a model that other companies can take and tweak them and make it fit for them."

Belden is headquartered in St. Louis and has operations in Richmond and Indianapolis. It creates communications technology for consumer and industry applications. This "second chance" for employees, Tate says, offers hope. "It's been really rewarding and exciting to hear the reaction of people that have gone through the program," she said. "We started the program around an opioid discussion, but as we've gone through, we've seen people fail for a host of substances." Tate says that discovery has led to an expanded treatment focus.

The company is looking to continue sharing the initiative with other employers and could bring it to other locations within the Belden network.