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The Importance of Supporting Recovery in the Workplace

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Recovery is a lifelong journey. For those in recovery from a substance use disorder, the period of time directly following treatment can be a challenging one to walk. Though early recovery is an extremely rewarding time for many reasons, it comes with  a unique set of challenges and obstacles. Returning to the workforce can be a source of stress and triggers for those in recovery. However, there are some key ways to make the workplace a more supportive environment.

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Creating a Recovery-Friendly Work Environment

For those who are employed, the work environment plays an important role  in overall quality of life. When employees feel valued and ultimately enjoy the career they have chosen, they tend to perform better in their professional and personal lives. An important element  in creating a healthy work environment is making it inclusive. In some instances, this might mean making the work environment more recovery-friendly. Those in recovery have made the  decision to leave their life of active addiction behind and work towards a healthier lifestyle. This involves a complete transformation; one that is often difficult. Feeling supported in their work environment can make a major difference in continued success in sobriety.

Implementing Confidentiality & Non-Discrimination Policies

A key element to creating a recovery-friendly workplace is implementing strict confidentiality and non-discrimination policies. Often legally required, these policies help those in recovery feel as though they can be honest about their recovery journey without it affecting their employment. Employees might wish to share their recovery with an employer though doing so is a personal choice, and it is not required. Knowing that this information will remain confidential helps these employees feel safe and supported.

Providing Resources & Referrals for Treatment

Addiction is a tough reality that a fair amount of employed individuals will experience at some point in their lives. In the past, substance use disorders were not as thoroughly understood as they are today. Because of long-standing stigmas surrounding addiction, some suffer in silence rather than reach out for help. They might fear professional consequences including job loss or discrimination in the workplace.

Providing resources and referrals to treatment facilities is an excellent way for employers to support their employees and improve the culture of the workplace.  Some ways in which  an employer can provide resources and referrals include:

  • Gathering information about local treatment options.
  • Providing materials with local 12-step meeting times and locations. (1)
  • Offering transportation to and from treatment or meetings.

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Offering Flexible Work Arrangements to Support Recovery

Another way to make the workplace more conducive to recovery is to offer flexible work arrangements. Between treatment participation, meetings with sponsors, and 12-Step groups, recovery can require hours of investment. When an employer exemplifies flexibility in scheduling and time off, employees will likely feel more supported in their decision to commit to recovery. This initial investment  can result in the overall lifestyle improvement for those in recovery at the workplace.

Promoting Work-Life Balance for Sustainable Recovery

A cornerstone to recovery is work-life balance (2). The stress of overworking can be a trigger that ultimately leads to relapse. An important way for a workplace to help in this area is to promote a healthy balance between work-related duties and other important life priorities. Setting boundaries around scheduling and after work activities can help those in recovery establish their schedule for a healthy sustainable lifestyle of sobriety.

Newly sober individuals who have put their career on pause while seeking treatment might be tempted to “make up for lost time.” Though both of these factors have healthy motivation behind them, they often lead to unsustainable levels of stress and exhaustion. Promoting a healthy work-life balance in the workplace is a great way to ensure that employees in recovery can maintain their sobriety and work efficiently.

Leveraging Employee Assistance Programs for Support

Many times, employers will offer various benefits in addition to a salary. These can include insurance, paid time off, or other perks. An important benefit to consider are the Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that were initially designed to help facilitate recovery. Many people in need of substance use disorder treatment hesitate to reach out for professional help because of potential issues with their workplace. Whether financial or scheduling, assisting employees who vocalize a desire for recovery can ensure that those individuals feel cared for and supported in their new healthy lifestyle. A variety of EAPs (3) are available to employers that can include in-house programs, external programs, or a combination of both.

How Recovery Support in the Workplace Can Lead to Successful Treatment & Outcomes

An average full-time job consumes an estimated 2,080 hours spent at work (4) each year. With this much time spent at work, it is important to ensure that the workplace is a supportive environment for recovery. Over 2,000 hours spent in a place that supports employees’ recovery efforts can make a dramatic difference in long-term outcomes.

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If you or someone you know is in need of substance use disorder treatment, contact Guardian Recovery today. Our Treatment Advisors are available to  answer any questions you may have concerning the treatment process


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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