Mindi Harris was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at an early age and suffered from severe pain.
"They put me on Morphine 60's. They put me on Percocet 10's and Fentanyl patches and I'm just an 18-year-old kid," said Harris.
Harris said she was soon addicted, but managed to hold down a full-time job until her addiction to opioids caught up with her at work.
"They said, 'okay it's drug test time,' and at that time I'm in active addiction so I freak out," Harris said.
Harris said she lost her job and spiraled out of control, "my addiction kind of took off and I hit rock bottom."
She is in recovery now and while looking for a new job, Harris said she is seeing a growing number of Miami Valley companies doing drug testing. Our investigation found that drug testing is mandatory in manufacturing since these businesses require employees to operate heavy machinery.
Steve Staub runs Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton and said his company has a hard time filling jobs because so many applicants cannot pass the drug test.
"We have people apply and we do interviews on the phone and ask, 'can you pass a drug test?' They say, 'no, not right now. Can you give me a month or so and maybe I can,'" Staub said.
A top testing company found that drug use by American workers is at its highest rate in a decade at 4.2 percent, based on 10-million drug test results. What are these companies seeing when applicants find out there is a required drug test?
"Probably about a third of those folks who schedule to come in and see us, don't actually make it," said Jeff Noble, of Noble Staffing Solutions.
Facing the need to fill these jobs, Staub is stepping up with a unique solution.
"The business here is taking a new approach. First, working with a local nonprofit to give people a second chance, and at the same time, helping the company," said Staub. "It's the right thing to do."
The nonprofit is Good Shepherd Ministries and the goal is to give recovering addicts a place to live and help finding a job.
Bryan Blackford said he used pain pills and then Fentanyl and eventually lost his job.
"There were times when I was sitting there using Fentanyl," said Blackford. "I'd b half hunched over, dead basically, and still trying to hit more."
Blackford was a welder at Honda and now that he is in recovery, he hopes to get a job in metal fabrication.
"To be fully independent, that would mean the world to me," Blackford said.
With the economy in overdrive, other local companies are now turning to Good Shepherd for help too.
"My phone rings every other day. People want employees that can pass drug tests," said Shawn Trapp of Good Shepherd Ministries.
While looking for work and fighting the stigma of addiction, Mindi Harris is telling others in recovery not to give up.
"That's what I'm continuing to do because I have to," said Harris. "As frustrating as it is, that's what we have to do."
FIVE FAST READS