rehabilitation and employment after drug or alcohol rehab

Achieving employment after drug or alcohol rehab is not as easy as it may seem

Achieving rehabilitation is a significant milestone in any person’s life, but it can be challenging to find employment after drug or alcohol rehab. Both employees and employers may have concerns about hiring someone who has a history of substance use. However, many organizations exist that help people find jobs after rehabilitation. If you are interested in finding employment in recovery, read on to learn more about these organizations and tips for finding work!

The Stress of Not Having a Job After Rehab

For many people, rehabilitation signifies the end of an era. It means that you are not living a life where substance use is your main priority anymore. With that said, it can be frightening to enter a new phase in your life without employment or a way to earn a living. The stress of not having a job can compound when an individual’s identity is their work, and they can no longer use their life skills as part of their work routine. Without support, this stress can negatively impact an individual’s mental health and the likelihood of relapse.

Relapse Risks

Addiction rehabilitation is a lifelong commitment that involves behavior changes in many aspects of a person's life such as learning coping skills, increasing self-awareness, identifying triggers, sleep hygiene, developing healthy boundaries, addressing co-dependent behavior, and building a sober support network.

Many people benefit from long-term outpatient rehabilitation for both substance use and mental health. It is essential to familiarize yourself with relapse risk factors. Here are a few examples of factors that can result in relapse:

  • Ambivalence or lack of motivation
  • Insufficient coping skills
  • Lack of social, emotional, or sober support
  • Cravings
  • Environment or isolation
  • Untreated mental or physical health
  • Burn out

Fortunately, there are multiple ways an individual can reduce their risk of relapse. It is critical to work with a sponsor or licensed substance use professional to create an individualized relapse prevention plan.1


It is common for people who are in recovery to experience a range of emotions after rehabilitation. You may feel elated and relieved that you're done with rehab while simultaneously feeling depressed about the thought of life without drugs or alcohol. It can be challenging to cope with these feelings post-rehabilitation without substance use as an outlet. Therapy can help provide tools for managing depression and anxiety, which go hand in hand with alcohol and drug rehab.2


For many people with anxiety or depression, it is common to have additional mental health diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or bipolar disorder. Co-occurring mental health and drug misuse may be the main reason a person sought out rehabilitation in the first place. Evidence-based treatment, social support, and medication management are essential pieces in the puzzle of recovery.3

Organizations That Help You Find Employment

Professional organizations that help people find employment can alleviate the stress of not having a job after rehabilitation. These organizations often provide resources for finding a job and may have information about what you need to do to get back into the workforce, including presenting yourself well at interviews or how to fill out applications. They also offer guidance on using your past addiction recovery experience as an asset rather than a liability when interviewing with employers.


Career One Stop is a source for career exploration, training, and job hunting. This platform is sponsored and run by the U.S. Department of Labor. Check out any of the following Career One Stop resources to begin working towards your professional goals:

  • Skills assessments
  • Career goal setting
  • Job training and searching
  • Resume writing
  • Networking
  • Interview preparation

Job-seeking individuals and employers benefit from helpful employment organizations like Career One Stop.4

America In Recovery

America In Recovery, founded by Larry Keast, was created to connect employers and recovering addicts seeking employment. Larry Keast was inspired to start this non-profit after he began hiring recovering addicts and ex-convicts. In his experience, employees got along well, and morale improved. Finding a job after rehabilitation is more attainable with platforms like America In Recovery.5

National Hire Network

The National H.I.R.E. Network was established back in 2001 by the Legal Action Center. H.I.R.E. stands for "Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment." This organization advocates for individuals in recovery through training, collaboration, research, and policy improvement.6

Tips to Find a Job After Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation can be a valuable asset when applying for employment. Here are a few steps to take when finding a job post-rehabilitation:

  • Determine what type of work you want
  • Use your rehabilitation experience as a selling point on the job application or interview
  • Network with peers who have jobs and ask them how they found their position


Volunteering is an excellent way to integrate yourself back into life after addiction. It can also provide life skills and experience that will make you more desirable on the job market. When not volunteering, think about your talents and how they may be helpful in other fields outside of work that interest you.

Make Use of Job Resources

After drug misuse rehabilitation, you may have to take a step back and re-evaluate your skills to find meaningful employment. In addition to employment organizations such as One Stop Labor Center, America In Recovery, and the National Hire Network, sober support organizations are another fantastic resource.

Knowing Your Rights

The rehabilitation process can make you feel vulnerable and powerless. You may need to know your rights when applying for jobs, including the ins and outs of anti-discrimination laws. The stigma surrounding drug misuse and mental health can be challenging to overcome.

As with other medical conditions and disabilities, anti-discrimination laws are put in place to protect employees and job-seekers from stigma and discrimination. Individuals have the right to contact their state and file a discrimination claim if needed.7


Drug and alcohol rehabilitation is a lifelong process. It is essential to manage expectations and not get overwhelmed with the idea of finding a job right after drug rehabilitation. Job hunting is hard for anyone, but it may feel challenging when facing stigma from addiction or mental health issues.

Learning life skills and seeking employment support organizations can make the journey easier. Employment organizations also empower individuals to set realistic expectations while understanding their rights and their state's anti-discrimination laws.


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