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Colorado Passes New Legislation to Support Recovery Friendly Workplaces

Governor Polis signs legislation that will invest in Colorado School of Public Health and CU Anschutz efforts to support individuals in recovery from substance use disorders

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Written by Travis Leiker on June 10, 2024

AURORA, COLORADO (June 6, 2024) – Governor Polis has signed Senate Bill 24-048. The legislation will invest nearly $1.5 million over the next four years in the Center for Health, Work, and Environment (CHWE) at the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH). Specifically, the legislation will support the Center and School’s efforts to establish Recovery Friendly Workplaces (RFW) and implement a voluntary employer participation and certification program to support individuals recovering from addiction and coping with other mental and behavioral health challenges.


Since 2022, CHWE and ColoradoSPH have partnered with the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention to lead Colorado's Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative™. The initiative acknowledges the critical role employers hold in elevating the importance of mental health and recovery from substance use disorders. ColoradoSPH and CHWE were identified to administer this program because of existing, strong collaborative efforts built over the past several years with public health, medicine, and business groups.

“The bill represents the power of bringing public and private organizations together to address public health challenges and to guide collective action,” said David Shapiro, CHWE Senior Manager and ColoradoSPH lead on the Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative. “Our goal has remained consistent since we launched this initiative—to engage business leaders across our state to collaboratively identify and implement Recovery Friendly Workplace principles across all industries and to better support individuals in treatment, recovery, and to prevent opioid and substance misuse through workplace interventions,” Shapiro continues.

The program will receive state appropriations to support the work in administering and implementing an innovative, voluntary Recovery Friendly Workplace Certification in Colorado. Participating businesses will receive advising to identify workplace and workforce needs for supporting employees in treatment and recovery. This assistance includes working directly with employers to discuss workplace policies, planning workplace events that are mindful of individuals in recovery, and assisting managers and supervisors to have crucial conversations about mental health. Businesses in the healthcare, construction, hospitality, and food service industries have already pledged their support and will be early participants in the program. CHWE will work with others at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and other state partners to implement the program over the next 4 years.

Following the Governor’s signing of the legislation, Cathy Bradley, Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health said, “the Substance Use Disorders Recovery Legislation [SB 24-048] demonstrates Colorado’s leadership in public health policy making and implementation.” She continued, “the success of this bill has been the result of ColoradoSPH’s commitment to work collaboratively and to be effective stewards of public support; I am excited to see the outcomes of this initiative.”

This is the first program of its kind in Colorado. It will benefit employers, employees, consumers, and communities demonstrated through expanded labor force, increased worker wellbeing, decreased turnover, improved productivity, and reduced health care costs. Colorado now leads with other states in championing workplaces to reduce societal stigma and misunderstanding by fostering a culture in which substance use disorder is recognized as a treatable health condition from which one can recover, and people in or seeking recovery are welcomed and supported in the workplace.


About the Center for Health, Work & Environment

The Center for Health, Work & Environment is an academic center within the Colorado School of Public Health. The Center is one of 10 Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health® and houses the Mountain & Plains Education and Research Center (MAP ERC), one of 18 centers of its kind supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Center team works with faculty, students, and community partners to advance worker health, safety, and well-being. The Center is committed to developing education, research, and public health practice initiatives that combat the problems of racial and environmental inequity and injustice facing workers. To effectively address the future of work, we aim to ensure a healthier and safer workplace for all. Main offices for the Center are located at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado.

About the Colorado School of Public Health

The Colorado School of Public Health is the first and only accredited school of public health in the Rocky Mountain Region, attracting top tier faculty and students from across the country, and providing a vital contribution towards ensuring our region’s health and well-being. Collaboratively formed in 2008 by the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, and the University of Northern Colorado, the Colorado School of Public Health provides training, innovative research and community service to actively address public health issues including chronic disease, access to health care, environmental threats, emerging infectious diseases, and costly injuries.

About the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is a world-class medical destination at the forefront of transformative science, medicine, education and patient care. The campus encompasses the University of Colorado health professional schools, more than 60 centers and institutes, and two nationally ranked independent hospitals - UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and Children's Hospital Colorado – which see more than 2 million adult and pediatric patient visits yearly. Innovative, interconnected and highly collaborative, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus delivers life-changing treatments, patient care and professional training and conducts world-renowned research fueled by $705 million in research grants. For more information, visit www.cuanschutz.edu.