By: Amanda Pitts

alpitts@abc6.com

@AmandaPittsTV

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Governor Gina Raimondo announced a new initiative Wednesday afternoon to combat the opioid epidemic.

"This is easily the biggest public health crisis that our country is facing right now." - Mayor Jorge Elorza, Providence

The Recovery-Friendly Workplace Initiative aims to help those struggling with addiction while in the workforce, by expanding job opportunities and skills training. 

The initiative will also provide guidance to employers looking to make their work environment supportive to addicts.

"Last year we saw a four percent decrease in overdose deaths. We're one of the only states that can say that." - Governor Gina Raimondo

Someone who knows firsthand what it's like to work while struggling with an addiction is Cory MacWhorter.

His addiction started in high school, but he was able to graduate from college and land a full-time job.

"In my early twenties, my drug use progressed, the substances I used got harder."

He continued working, silently struggling with his addiction. In 2013, he hit rock bottom and was fired from his job. He was scared to come clean with his employer about his addiction.

Now in recovery and back to work, he's using his story to help others who might also be silently struggling.

"When we're given an opportunity, and we have adequate support, people in recovery like myself are able to thrive and make positive contributions to our employer's success."

The initiative will be supported by a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

A committee will develop guidelines for businesses to be recognized as "recovery-friendly".

(c) WLNE-TV 2018