In the state of Delaware, a new recovery program is demonstrating multiple benefits. The work program called Work-a-Day Earn-a-Pay will keep the streets clean in the state, but also help people who are dealing with addiction work toward recovery

Recently in downtown Wilmington, Governor John Carney joined other leaders from the state to announce plans to expand the program statewide. It brings together the importance of both work and recovery from addiction, while providing jobs for people in recovery.

Since March, Work-a-Day Earn-a-Pay has been in the pilot phase. A total of 46 workers participated in the pilot program and worked to collect more than 750 bags of trash on major roadways in Wilmington.

The pilot program was viewed as a success, which is why it’s now expanding. The program will be funded with $483,000 of the $2 million budgeted under the Keep DE Litter-Free Campaign. With the program expansion, much of the focus will be on the roadways leading into Delaware, to create a good impression on new visitors.

Participants in the program describe its enormous benefits. One participant, Tina Hylton, came to Delaware after her husband, who used drugs, committed suicide. Hylton is a former nurse, and she said she’s been able to remain substance-free for a year in large part because of her job as well as the other services workers are put in touch with through their participation. Hylton said that she came from an abandoned house with no food or water for days, and she feels as if the program has given her the opportunity to live again.

Along with a job, the program gives participants employment training, help writing their resumes, and references when they’re ready to apply for jobs elsewhere.

According to Hylton, she and the other workers participating in the program have a sense of pride in the work they do, especially when they’re cleaning up areas where families and children play. She said on her first day she and her coworkers were able to pick up around 400 heroin bags from a park, and she feels good about removing potentially dangerous drug paraphernalia from the streets and giving kids a safe place to play.

Giving Those in Addiction Recovery a Second Chance

The Delaware program highlights the importance of helping people get a second chance when they’re in addiction recovery. It can be difficult because of legal problems and other issues that can surround active addiction. Currently, there is research underway looking at the effectiveness and outcomes of workplace recovery programs.

For example, Kenneth Silverman, who is a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, is working on the use of employment as a therapeutic intervention in and of itself. Another approach being looked at is the use of employment as a measurement of successful recovery. Silverman’s research includes offering unemployed, economically disadvantaged people who struggle with opioids or other substance dependencies paid employment.

As part of that, researchers study them to see how work might be a reinforcer or incentive to remain substance-free. Silverman suggests with his research that work isn’t the only component that keeps people from using drugs. He theorizes there is an important role of both money and accountability as well.

Other researchers and advocacy groups are working to help people find opportunities for a career and recovery. Addiction recovery is a challenging journey requiring a lot of work, but ultimately for people who are in recovery, there’s nothing more worthwhile. If you would like to learn about compassionate, evidence-based addiction treatment, please contact The Recovery Village.

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