AHP’s Dedication to Employment as a Recovery Support for People with SUDs Leads to Recognition and Participation in Expert Panel

Advocates for Human Potential, Inc., (AHP) believes firmly in the benefits of employment as a recovery support for people struggling with addictions and has contributed to this strategy through its work managing the Massachusetts Access to Recovery (ATR) program, which was specifically customized for people with substance use disorders (SUDs). 


The ATR program, funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and managed by AHP, incorporates employment as one of many recovery supports for people with SUDs. Rebecca Starr, ATR project director and senior program manager at AHP, created ATR’s nationally recognized Career Building Initiative (CBI) employment program, which is specifically customized for people with SUDs and offers job readiness and job training programs to as many as 600 participants per year. 


Because of this work, and due to Starr’s exceptional work creating CBI, the ATR program was featured in a 2020 report for the U.S. Department of Labor titled The Role of the Workforce System in Addressing the Opioid Crisis: A Resource Guide.  


In addition, Starr was invited to serve as an expert at the Virtual Expert Resource Meeting on Supporting People with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) or SUD in Achieving Employment Goals, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS). The official meeting report was released on April 16. The meeting’s objectives were to 


  • Identify the vocational support needs of people with SMI or SUD. 
  • Explore strategies to connect and coordinate existing programs, resources, and activities across systems and federal programs to improve the employment outcomes of people with SMI or SUD. 


ATR is a 6-month program for Massachusetts residents who are struggling with addiction and are seeking support for recovery and community reentry. The program helps adults in early recovery by providing recovery support services, including care coordination, financial support for basic living needs (e.g., transportation passes, clothing, hygiene products, government identification cards), individualized recovery coaching, and CBI. It has a major focus on preparing participants for employment so they can reenter society productively.  


More than 2,400 participants have completed CBI, and participants were 4 times more likely to be employed at their 6-month disenrollment assessment than at intake. 


Now in its 10th year, ATR has served more than 25,000 participants. Overdose rates among participants are less than 1 percent while enrolled in the program.  


As part of the CBI program, AHP instituted an intensive job readiness program called Paths to Empowerment (P2E). The 3-week, 60-hour P2E program was co-developed by MassHire Career Centers and AHP to address the unique barriers to employment for people with addiction issues. P2E provides a specialized job readiness program and job search assistance to individuals in early recovery from SUDs who are participating in ATR.  


ATR serves individuals in four Massachusetts cities: Boston, Worcester, New Bedford, and Springfield/ Holyoke. AHP implements the ATR program for the Commonwealth. 


Many ATR services have been suspended temporarily due to COVID-19, but alternative supports and services have been implemented where possible. All CBI programs will be reopening in the next few months. 


More information about the program, how to refer individuals, and opportunities for job training providers to become part of the ATR network is available on the ATR website at http://www.ma-atr.org

A video sharing participant success stories is also available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zw_uJGUskw&feature=youtu.be



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