UNION LEADER – May 6, 2020

Recovery-friendly workplaces in New Hampshire are trying to help stressed employees stay sober during the COVID-19 pandemic as the temptation to drink or use drugs is great and many people are spending a large part of their day at home.

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Emmett Soldati is the owner and founder of Teatotaller Tea House in Somersworth. The business does not serve alcohol and describes itself as a refuge for queer and transgender people who are sober or are considering embracing sobriety.

Soldati said much of the world is “recovery unfriendly” and work can be a refuge for some people. For those who are on their path to long-term sobriety, unemployment during the pandemic could be a breaking point.

“Any change to their economic situation and their family life is just another opportunity for possible use or a breakdown of their network,” Soldati said of those working toward sobriety. “Employment is one of the safest places to stay connected.”

Soldati has been able to get three of his 10 employees back to work and has COVID-19 resources published on his website for other business leaders. The café will not open until at least 2021, but they are running twice-a-week tea and monthly chai services so people can get their most popular items delivered to their doors.

It is estimated that there are 60,000 New Hampshire residents who are in recovery from addiction. The Recovery Friendly Workforce Initiative in Concord recognizes that impaired productivity and employee absenteeism strain the state’s economy by $1.5 billion.

Samantha Lewandowski, a recovery-friendly workforce adviser, says they know businesses are facing additional strains due to COVID-19 but helping those with substance and alcohol use disorders is still a priority for those employers they work with.

Lewandowski said Soldati and Bonta have been advocates for recovery-friendly workplaces, and business owners who want to join the movement can rely upon them and others within their network for more information and support.