Suggested links

Keeping a Job While in Recovery

While having and keeping a job during the addiction recovery process is beneficial, it can present a unique set of challenges—especially during early recovery. Learn the tools to help you keep your job during the recovery process and discuss special protections to support you legally as you focus on long-term sobriety. If you are recovering and just starting your job search, check out our page about finding employment during addiction recovery.

Battling addiction and ready for treatment? Find Treatment Now

Can I Keep My Job While I’m in Addiction Treatment?

A concern that people have when battling substance abuse and addiction is that they will lose their jobs if they go to a treatment center. However, current laws offer particular protections for people seeking addiction or substance abuse treatment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects those who have already gone to rehab or are currently in an addiction rehab program. The ADA protects you from being fired for reasons directly related to the recovery process.

The ADA does NOT protect you from being fired for job-related issues due to active addiction, such as poor performance, drug use on the job, or unreported absences.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is an assistance program that offers up to 12 weeks of medical leave. While this time off is typically unpaid or paid at a significantly reduced rate, it allows you to seek inpatient treatment without worrying if you will still have a job once you have completed treatment.

Do I Tell My Employer That I’m in Recovery?

While you are not legally required to tell anyone you are in recovery, being open and honest with your employer can make balancing your work obligations and recovery manageable for both parties.

While you can choose how in-depth you want to go, you should be transparent with your employer, especially if you need accommodations regarding your work schedule (for instance,  scheduled therapy sessions at an IOP or drug rehab center).

One of the key benefits of outpatient programs is that they are often flexible enough to allow patients to continue working or return to work if they were previously unemployed due to their addiction.

Try Therapy Online

Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with a licensed therapist.

We earn a commission if you purchase services through our links.

Take Assessment

The Importance of Having a Job During Recovery

Aside from the financial aspects, working while in recovery is an integral part of maintaining sobriety.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people who maintain employment while in a recovery program have a better overall quality of life, including a lower relapse rate.

Below are some of the other reasons why it is important not just to get a job in recovery but to keep it as well:


We all want to feel like we have a purpose in life. When battling substance use disorder, many people with alcohol or drug addiction lose their sense of purpose as their addiction takes over.

For recovering addicts, having a job to go to every day—part-time or full-time—can give you back that sense of purpose. It can also help build your new identity, provide an opportunity for personal growth, and offer a place to build strong relationships for your support system.


Structure and stability are crucial aspects of the recovery journey, especially for those who are early in addiction recovery. While many people dread the monotony of their workday, for someone in recovery, that structure can play a vital role in their continued sobriety.

Having a daily routine that you can stick to can help you keep your eyes on the proverbial prize and avoid the temptations of too much time on your hands or allowing your brain to wander too much.

Financial Security

Financial struggles are a common sign of substance abuse and addiction. Many people find themselves in dire financial situations because they spend their money on substances to maintain their drug or alcohol addiction.

A steady income can help you pay off any debts you might have incurred while using and become financially secure overall.

Maintaining Sobriety While Being Successful at Work

While working can be a key part of your recovery, you should also ensure that your work doesn’t damage your overall well-being. Not managing stress levels, for instance, can increase the risk of relapse.

Certain things you can do to ensure that you are still successful at work while continuing to make your recovery a priority.

Manage Stress Levels

Stress is a common trigger that can cause a person in recovery to relapse. While you can’t control the unnecessary stress of most work environments, you can control how you react to stress.

During treatment, you learned healthy and sober techniques for handling stress and found one or more that work for you (e.g., meditation, deep breathing, journaling, etc.) You can use these tools to help you manage your stress levels in the workplace.

If you need to, communicate any concerns with your boss or co-workers so they can be prepared if you need to excuse yourself temporarily and get your stress under control in a healthy manner.

Stick to Your Recovery Plan

It can be easy for those who have been in recovery for a while to become complacent.

No matter how far along you are in your recovery process, remember that recovery is a lifelong journey and something that you will work on daily. Nothing, including your job, should take priority over your sobriety.

Keep going to meetings and/or support groups, even if it means adjusting the meeting time you attend due to a new work schedule.

Create a Work/Life Balance

While you prioritize your work, you also prioritize yourself and your personal life. A healthy life outside of work will make your work life more successful.

Get Started on Your Recovery Journey

For someone in recovery, especially those in early recovery, it is important to have a job and keep that job. Whether it’s a new job or a job you have been at for decades, make sure that it does not become a priority over your sobriety.

If you, a family member, or a loved one are struggling with your sobriety, it’s ok to ask for help. Call the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or visit their online locator to find treatment programs in your area.

Ready for Treatment?

Centric Behavioral Health, our paid treatment center sponsor, is available 24/7:
Learn More About Centric or For Immediate Treatment Help, Call (888) 694-1249.

Frequently Asked Questions About Keeping a Job While in Recovery

Should I tell my employer that I’m in recovery?

While you are under no legal obligation to do so, being open and transparent with your employer can help make balancing your work obligations and your recovery process easier, especially if you need accommodations from them.

How can I properly balance my job and my recovery?

While you might want to jump right back into your job after treatment, it is also important not to let your recovery get put on the back burner.

  • Creating a proper work/life balance
  • Managing your stress levels in a healthy manner
  • Sticking to your recovery plan

Do I have the right to keep my job while going through treatment?

Yes, you have the legal right to keep your job even during treatment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prevents an employer from firing an employee for anything related to the treatment and recovery process. They are required to provide reasonable accommodations for you to seek addiction treatment, which can include a more flexible schedule.

It’s important to note that the ADA does not protect you from being fired with cause as it relates to substance abuse or job performance.

The Family and Medical Leave Act offers up to 12 weeks of medical leave. While it is often unpaid, this legal protection provides the peace of mind that you can go to treatment at a recovery center, and your job will be waiting for you when you are done.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, February 16). Workplace Supported Recovery Program. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Family and Medical Leave Act. DOL. (2024a).
  3. Frone, M. R., Osborne, J. C., Chosewood, L. C., & Howard, J. (2022, November 23). Workplace Supported Recovery: New Niosh Research Addresses an Evolving Crisis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. Laudet, A. B. (2011, July). The Case for Considering Quality of Life in Addiction Research and Clinical Practice. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice.
  5. Laudet, A. B. (2012). Rate and Predictors of Employment Among Formerly Polysubstance Dependent Urban Individuals in Recovery. Journal of Addictive Diseases.
  6. National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Drug Use in the Workplace. (1994, January 1). Employee Assistance Programs. Under the Influence? Drugs and the American Work Force.
  7. Provide Support. SAMHSA. (2023, October 3).
  8. Recovery-Ready Workplace. DOL. (2024b).
  9. Recruitment and Employment of People in Recovery. DOL. (2024c).
  10. Sigurdsson, S. O., Ring, B. M., O’Reilly, K., & Silverman, K. (2012, November). Barriers to Employment Among Unemployed Drug Users: Age Predicts Severity. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
  11. The United States Government. (2023, November 9). Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Support Recovery-Ready Workplaces and Strengthen Our Economy. The White House.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Our free email newsletter offers guidance from top addiction specialists, inspiring sobriety stories, and practical recovery tips to help you or a loved one keep coming back and staying sober.

By signing up, you’ll be able to:

  • Stay Focused on Recovery
  • Find Ways To Give Back
  • Connect with Others Like You
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Find Treatment Now