Sheilah Powell

Sheilah Powell

Supporting Rural Nevada – One Business At A Time

Over 22 million Americans struggled with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In Nevada, the drug overdose mortality rate is sadly about three times higher than the national average. 

And here is one more statistic that is eye-opening – about 70% of individuals who use illicit drugs and alcohol are employed with jobs and careers all over the Silver State, and the annual cost to Nevada for SUD, most of which is incurred by businesses, is about $6.8 BILLION. These costs include a reduction in the labor force, decreased productivity, turnover, absenteeism, health care, and justice-involved issues, among others. 

While much of the public health attention around Nevada is focused on Clark and Washoe counties, an estimated 281,019 Nevadans or 9.7% of Nevada’s population reside in the state’s rural and frontier counties, according to the Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book. The rural and frontier population spreads over 95,431 square miles or 86.9% of the state’s land mass. 

Simply put, about 10% of the state’s population is spread over a large area and is without appropriate recovery support.  Rural Nevada has a higher prevalence of opioid misuse than urban areas, according to research from the University of Nevada, Reno. However, when it comes to addiction treatment and recovery support resources, folks in rural communities often have a harder time accessing them because of so many barriers like distance from clinics, hospitals and doctors, a lack of mutual aid support meetings, and few and far between recovery support services such as recovery centers or peer recovery coaches.

Many rural Nevadans would benefit from having a robust system of Recovery Friendly Workplaces, but instead, they face additional challenges when it comes to finding and obtaining effective treatment and recovery supports for their SUD and/ or mental health challenges. 

Rural communities have been disproportionately affected by the opioid and addiction crisis. While urban populations have higher rates of opioid use, more people are dying in rural areas as a result of opioid-induced overdose and drug poisoning, and employees struggling with addiction in rural Nevada are not getting the support they deserve. This contrast in death rates is a result of many urban-rural discrepancies. 

One of these barriers is a lack of emergency naloxone devices in rural areas, and also the response times of first responders are significantly longer. Addiction treatment providers are few and far between in isolated communities. According to the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health Report from April 2017, of the 2.2% of US physicians who have obtained a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine (a medication used to treat Opioid Use Disorder), over 90% of their practice is in urban counties. 

Many rural counties in Nevada do not have any physicians who prescribe buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid use disorder. Additionally, methadone treatment facilities, as well as behavioral health counselors are much more available in urban areas, as opposed to rural ones. 

Employees in rural Nevada need support for their SUD, mental health, and overall wellness more than ever now. The good news is that Nevada employers can play a huge role in helping their employees succeed at work. There is no cost to Nevada companies or employers to become designated as a Recovery Friendly Workplace. Recovery-friendly workplaces are essential for helping rural Nevadans recover from substance use disorders and other mental health challenges, and lead productive & positive lives.

Thanks to this new initiative, rural Nevadans can now get the support they need for their SUD while on the job.  Recovery-friendly workplaces are designed with the needs of employees in mind who are wellness-minded and want to navigate any problematic relationship with substances. 

The Recovery Friendly Workplace (RFW) Initiative, facilitated through Foundation for Recovery, empowers employers to implement recovery-friendly practices within the workplace and provide support for employees in recovery or those impacted by SUD.

The mission of the RFW Initiative is to champion employee wellness by creating supportive and robust workplaces that further the holistic well-being of employees. They do this by proactively preventing problematic substance use and supporting recovery from addiction in the workplace and the community.

A RFW can help employees stay healthy in so many ways when it comes to addiction and mental health recovery. A supportive workplace can allow a person to work with their doctors or clinics to adjust medication dosages, offer onsite wellness activities, allow for additional time off for medical treatment, find alternative ways to manage their illness or disability, have ongoing wellness webinars or seminars, etc. Even the fact that an employer chooses to undergo training on these issues is a huge show of support for their employees. And Foundation For Recovery can pave the way for your business to become a state-designated Recovery Friendly Workplace! 

If you are interested in becoming a Recovery Friendly Workplace in Nevada, the process is super easy and FREE. Once you submit your information, a Recovery Friendly Ambassador (RFA) will be in contact with you to walk you through the entire process. Workplaces of all sizes and readiness levels will benefit from participation in this initiative, so it doesn’t matter if you have 3 employees or 3,000! 

Resources that you will receive as a RFW include customized training, access to recovery resources, life-saving harm reduction items, and individualized support. 

In addition, all RFW businesses get priority treatment when it comes to workforce placement, through the Initiative’s partnership with the State Division of Welfare & Supportive Services. If your business is experiencing high turnover or if you’re looking to hire, the RFW can connect you with our partners at DWSS to find the perfect team member from their pool of jobseekers. Your company will also have the opportunity to engage in ongoing recovery-friendly culture practices and activities and receive ongoing support from your RFA and Foundation for Recovery. 

Learn more about how to become a Recovery-Friendly Workplace today!

Share your thoughts. Leave a comment.

Contact Us.

Recovery Friendly Workplace Ambassador

Southern Nevada Recovery Community Center

Our Activities Calendar

  • One-on-one Peer Recovery Support
  • Mutual Aid Meetings & Support Groups
  • Women’s Empowerment Workshops
  • GED or High school Equivalent Preparation
  • Overdose Prevention Training and naloxone (Narcan) Access Point
  • Computers
  • Library
  • Bus Passes
  • Recycled Clothing (Caring Closet)
  • Peer Recovery Support Specialist Training
  • Lounge Area
  • Classrooms & meeting spaces

The Southern Nevada Recovery Community Center offers several spaces open to the groups and organizations to rent for meetings, support groups, trainings, and events. Learn more or contact for more information.

Contact us

Person-Directed Recovery

Person-centered recovery is directed, as much as possible by the person – including decisions about who should be included in the process.  The planning identifies just a few small, but meaningful, short-term changes that the individual can focus on helping to reduce some of the barriers or challenges moving forward.  Person centered care should be central to all recovery frameworks.

*Adapted from Person-Centered Care and Planning by Neal Adams, MD, MPH, and Diane Grieder, M.Ed.