Recovery Unplugged Outreach Manager Blake Cohen Brings Our Corporate Wellness Program to New Audiences
It’s been three weeks since my corporate wellness presentation at Bounce Exchange, a large tech company based in New York City, and today I received a text from one of their employee’s stating the following:
“Blake, still getting compliments for you on the presentation. Someone told our executive coach that it was really meaningful for them.”
What he doesn’t know that is his comment is the highest compliment I could have received. It means that we accomplished something that every person in public speaking hopes to accomplish prior to giving their presentation – my message was delivered in a way that left a lasting impression on the audience. In order to explain the mission and meaning behind these presentations, that I now find myself dedicating most of my time to, I think it’s best to explain why we, as a company, started down this path.
About six months ago, I was given an incredible opportunity to become a speaker with a company in Palm Beach County that brings information regarding addiction into the public-school system. We speak to a wide array of ages, starting in 5th grade classes all the way through college-age audiences, and discuss a variety of topics, ranging from marijuana, vaping, opioids and more.We even utilize our own personal stories of recovery to discuss how our poor decision-making eventually led us down a path of addiction. I have to say; the vaping presentation scares me the most every time I do it. Nationwide, schools are facing the enormous challenge of keeping discreet vaping devices out of the hands of young students and they are failing at an alarming rate.
The presentations to which I’m typically assigned are more educational in nature, being that I am a Certified Addictions Professional and students are more likely to listen to me because of those credentials. What I realized doing these presentations was how little the general population really knew about addiction. Sure, some of them heard about it on the news or had a family member struggle at some point but they didn’t really understand the intricacies of what it means to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Furthermore, they didn’t know that it was OK to struggle with such a disease and that there were options that existed to help overcome it.
So, this got me thinking how I can take what I’m doing in schools, educating these kids and teachers about addiction and breaking down walls of stigma surrounding it, and apply it to another world I often find myself enmeshed in at my job…corporate America. Thus, the Recovery Unplugged Corporate Wellness Program was born.
I’m honored to get the opportunity to partner with HR departments and Wellness Directors all over the country in order to educate employees on addiction. Additionally, I get to help these companies break down walls in discussing mental illness, addiction, vulnerabilities, and defects by fostering a loving workspace in which people feel free to be themselves. Of course, working for the rock and roll of treatment centers, I do my best to make the presentation fun and even include music at the beginning, middle, and end.
The ultimate goal of the presentation, for me, is to offer insight into mental illnesses such as addiction and encourage those that are struggling that it’s OK to get help, if they need it. I’m not asking them to run up and down the halls at their office screaming “I’m addicted to pain pills!” but instead I’m giving them a much-needed nod of approval should they decide they want help for their issues. I’m also helping the right departments at these companies learn and understand the methodology that best applies in helping those employees that are struggling. I offer general guidelines on what behaviors, effects, and symptoms typically are displayed from a person suffering from a substance use disorder and explain how to approach/confront that employee using sensitivity, coming from a place of love instead of judgement.
The best part of doing these presentations, so far, has been the response I’ve gotten from employees once I’m finished speaking. They come up to me and tell me personal stories of family members struggling, proudly show me their normally-hidden Narcotics Anonymous key tags, thank me for my willingness to be open with them, and express gratitude that their workplace is finally discussing such taboo topics.
This whole process has been a major eye-opener to me. It’s showed me how behind the eight-ball (pun intended) the corporate world is in having a work environment that openly cares about their employees’ health and well-being. It’s given me insight into how archaic many workplaces are in the way they look at wellness campaigns and how scared they are to discuss topics that, yes, might be uncomfortable; but are a reality in this day and age.
Unfortunately, people are dying from substance use disorders at an alarming rate and, approximately, 75 percent of those people struggling with substances are employed. Our country is in the middle of a serious addiction crisis and it must be addressed at all levels, which is why I’m making it my focus to address it head on. Together, with an open mind and an open heart, employers can foster a safer work environment, reduce workplace incidents, and reduce costs by investing in the health and education of their employees.
If you’d like to have me come out and speak to your employees, I’d be delighted. Please send me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can to discuss this initiative further.
Send All Inquiries to: Wellness@RecoveryUnplugged.com
Topics Discussed in the Presentation:
- My personal story of recovery and how I overcame stigma
- The fascinating history of addiction in America
- Understanding addiction in the brain
- Substance abuse vs substance misuse/use
- Effects of substance abuse on (and in) the workplace
- Caused behind the current addiction crisis
- Stigma: The Silent Killer
- Understanding treatment resources and what’s available
- Creating and fostering a workplace that cares
- A demonstration of how music can unify us all
“Blake was engaging, heartfelt, entertaining, and did an incredible job helping our staff understand addiction and the widespread number of people its’ affecting. I’ve already given two employees Blake’s information so he can help them.”
– Human Resources Manager
“I think it was informative and it got one of the best audiences we’ve had for any of our wellness events. There were people in there that never attend our fireside chats.”
– Human Resources Coach
“It was so good! He did such a great job! I can’t wait for Blake to come do it for my own company!”
– Wellness Manager