Get Help Now 760-492-6385

Most people participating in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) have families to support and limited time away from work. Returning to the workplace after treatment or during outpatient care comes with various challenges. Many workplaces have developed support systems for assisting employees with maintaining sobriety on the job. According to the Department of Labor (DOL), “[S]tate government, chamber of commerce, or local community-based organizations may already have a recovery-ready/recovery-friendly workplace initiative, or may be willing to work with [employers] to develop one.” West Coast Recovery Centers helps people navigate recovery at work by providing information, resources, referrals, and support services. 

Transitioning Back to the Workforce After Treatment

SUD is considered a disability if individuals are actively in treatment. Employees can request accommodations to ensure their work schedule and duties don’t stop them from taking advantage of aftercare services, including therapy and self-help groups. According to the United States Commission of Civil Rights (USCCR), “[T]he [Americans With Disabilities Act] provides limited protection from discrimination for recovering drug abusers and for alcoholics.” The clinicians at West Coast Recovery Centers educate clients on their rights and offer referrals to local resources advocating for workplace accommodations.

Recovery at Work and Everyday Challenges

Everyone encounters unexpected situations after transitioning back to work. Some of the everyday challenges people in recovery face when they return to work include: 

  • Fear of being treated differently by coworkers or management 
  • Intrusive questions from coworkers or management
  • Difficulty concentrating due to lingering symptoms of SUD
  • Support group meetings, therapy sessions, or drug testing appointments interfering with scheduled work hours 

In most cases, employees are not legally required to disclose their health status to HR personnel or hiring managers. Medical information is protected, and people should not feel forced to reveal anything about their medical history. However, if someone plans to request accommodations, including changes to work schedules to accommodate treatment or aftercare services, they may need to provide some information. Employees recovering from substance abuse are only protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act if they are not actively engaged in illicit substance abuse. Individuals who continue abusing substances do not have access to the same protections or accommodations.  

How Do Employers Accommodate Recovery at Work?

In recent years, many employers have offered recovery support services to help employees maintain productivity. Every employer has their guidelines, policies, and expectations for employees who choose to take advantage of recovery support services. Often, employees can find information about recovery support services in the employee handbook or by contacting a human resource (HR) representative. 

Employers may offer accommodations for individuals recovering from SUD by doing the following: 

  • Temporarily reassignment to a less stressful job position 
  • Transitioning employees from full-time to part-time positions to reduce workload
  • Temporary schedule changes to accommodate therapy and other treatments
  • Offering mental health programs and services, including individual therapy 
  • Training employees to recognize and address mental health or addiction-related issues in the workplace 
  • Creating policies to prevent workplace responsibilities from interfering with a person’s recovery 

Requesting accommodations can be challenging. Some jobs may not have support services and may need to work with employees to compromise and find workable solutions. However, individuals recovering from substance abuse are protected under the ADA and have the right to reasonable accommodations. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “The employer and the individual with a disability should engage in an informal process to clarify what the individual needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation.” 

West Coast Recovery Centers Prepares Clients for Recovery at Work

Clients in treatment often use a step-down approach to move through various levels of care until they feel comfortable maintaining sobriety independently. Returning to work can happen during outpatient treatment or aftercare. 

Clinicians prepare clients for the return to work by doing the following: 

  • Creating relapse prevention and crisis management strategies
  • Helping clients build healthy coping skills 
  • Offering referrals to outside resources, including community-based advocacy or support groups 

West Coast Recovery prioritizes personalized treatment plans and aftercare planning to ensure clients feel comfortable maintaining sobriety while returning to work. 

A Healthy Work-Life Balance Reduces the Risk of Relapse

Clients returning to work have less risk of relapse if they establish a healthy work-life balance by doing the following: 

  • Setting clear boundaries with coworkers and managers 
  • Requesting reasonable accommodations to support recovery
  • Practicing regular self-care
  • Avoiding work responsibilities while at home 
  • Remaining mindful of stress levels and utilizing healthy coping skills 

Friends and family provide an important source of motivation, accountability, and support. Clients often rely on their support system to help them set clear work-life boundaries during early recovery. West Coast Recovery Centers make it easier for individuals and families to navigate the complexities of maintaining sobriety after returning to work. 

Many people are forced to work while recovering from substance abuse. In some cases, people have personal or professional responsibilities that make it difficult for them to take time away from work to focus on treatment and establishing sobriety. Other individuals may get time off from work to participate in treatment and must immediately return once they transition to aftercare. Returning to work often comes with unexpected challenges and stressors. Part of treatment involves preparing clients to successfully manage everyday stressors. West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients and their loved ones with resources, information, and referrals to useful services meant to support recovery in the workplace. To learn more about our programs and services, call us at (760) 492-6509.