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Finding Employment After Recovery: The Truth About Returning to Work After Getting Sober

We understand a healthy return to work may be just the right structure someone in recovery needs to stabilize his or her new way of life. In fact, it can be a crucial part of recovery. We also understand it may put others face to face with unhealthy triggers, stressors and anxiety.

Returning to work after substance abuse treatment isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. The team of specialists at Gateway Rehab is skilled in providing the guidance and support you need to make your transition back to work as smooth as possible. Our Extended Care, Outpatient Programs and recovery support service (Opioid Use Disorder-Center of Excellence) can help you with personal challenges such as relationship conflicts, stress, anxiety, grief, substance abuse or finding quality services.


If you took medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and plan to return to your employer after getting sober, there are a few things you need to do to help make your transition a positive experience, such as:

  • Establish a return-to-work agreement (RTWA)
    Before returning to work, the U.S. Department of Labor recommends an RTWA be in place. This is an important accountability tool for the employee as it clearly outlines expectations from their employer.
  • You don’t need to explain your absence to everyone
    It’s up to you if you’d like to share details about your recovery. If not, your employer and fellow employees should respect your privacy.
  • Find a workplace confidant
    It may be helpful to have one or two workplace co-workers who understand and respect your situation. They can also help stop rumors or inappropriate water cooler talk.
  • Avoid workaholism
    While developing a strong work ethic isn’t a bad thing, it’s important to recognize when you may be using work as an excuse to avoid dealing with painful feelings and broken relationships post-rehab. Take time to reconnect with friends and loved ones, attend meetings and enjoy sober-related social activities.

Finding employment after recovery

Like returning to a previous employer, finding a new job after substance abuse treatment can also be a challenge. Understanding barriers in advance can help you prepare for any situation. Here are a few common issues that go along with finding employment after recovery:

  • Explaining a gap in employment history
  • Feeling uncertain about revealing past substance abuse
  • Worrying about discrimination from potential employers

Don’t let your recovery stand in the way of your professional goals. If you stay on top of your sobriety and take good care of yourself, the job or career you want will be well within reach.

To learn more about services offered by Gateway Rehab substance abuse treatment in Pittsburgh, contact us at 800-472-1177. We are eager to help you get started on the road to recovery and will be with you every step of the way, which includes finding employment after recovery.