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Supporting Recovery: Navigating
Substance Use Disorder and Employment

Explore how New Choices Treatment Center supports individuals in managing substance use disorder and employment, fostering recovery and job stability.


Substance Use Disorder and Employment: What’s the Connection?

Millions of Americans battle substance use disorder (SUD) every year, and this has a significant ripple effect on the workplace. However, with the right approach, both employees and employers can benefit from successful recovery journeys.
In fact, the workplace is an important setting to address SUD. About 70% (about 13.6 million workers) of all adults with an alcohol or illicit drug use disorder are employed.1
Substance Use Disorder and Employment

Our Approach to Substance Use Disorder and Employment

We can help you explore strategies and best practices for managing substance use disorder and employment. We aim to provide employers and employees with insights to support recovery and promote success.
At New Choices Treatment Center (NCTC), we believe that connection makes recovery possible. We are dedicated to empowering individuals with the skills needed for long-term sobriety.

Understanding Substance Use Disorder and Employment

Studies show that employees with SUD are more likely to miss work, have decreased productivity, and experience accidents. This not only impacts the individual but also creates a burden for employers.2
Here’s a closer look on how substance use disorder can significantly impact various aspects of an individual’s life, including their work performance:

Work Performance

Absenteeism, tardiness, and decreased productivity are common consequences of SUD. Additionally, impaired cognitive function can affect decision-making, focus, and attention to detail.
This may increase the probability of accidents or safety hazards due to slowed reflexes or poor judgment.


Strained relationships with colleagues can change due to increased irritability or neglecting responsibilities. There may also be increased issues with trust and potential conflict within the team.

Overall Well-Being

Physical health deterioration can happen due to substance abuse, which can lead to additional complications and increased healthcare costs.
Also, mental health issues like anxiety or depression often co-occur with SUD, creating a complex cycle. Social isolation and strained family relationships can further exacerbate the problem.

Stigma and Discrimination

Stigma and misconceptions surrounding addiction in the workplace pose significant barriers to recovery. Many employees fear judgment, discrimination, and potential job loss if they disclose their struggles with substance use disorder and employment.3
This stigma perpetuates a cycle of silence and denial, preventing individuals from seeking the help they need. Addressing these misconceptions is crucial.
Addiction should be viewed as a medical condition requiring treatment and support, not as a moral failing or character flaw. Creating an inclusive and understanding workplace culture can help reduce stigma, encourage openness, and support employees on their path to recovery.

The Legal and Ethical Considerations of Substance Use Disorder and Employment

Both employers and employees have legal and ethical considerations regarding substance use disorder and employment.
Here’s a breakdown:4

Employer Obligations

Employers must navigate various legal and ethical considerations related to SUD and employment. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with SUD may be protected from discrimination, and employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations.5
Additionally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for treatment.6

Employees' Rights

Employees generally have the right to privacy regarding their medical conditions, including SUD. However, certain roles may require disclosing a substance use disorder if it affects job performance or safety.

Workplace Policies

Employers should also establish clear workplace policies regarding substance use, emphasizing support and rehabilitation over punitive measures.
Creating a supportive environment that respects legal rights and prioritizes employee well-being is not only ethical but also beneficial for overall workplace health.

Creating a Supportive Workplace Environment In the Midst of Substance Use Disorder and Employment

Building a workplace that fosters recovery requires a multi-pronged approach. Here’s how to create a supportive environment for both employees and employers:

Education and Awareness

Education and awareness are key components in creating a supportive workplace for employees dealing with substance use disorder.

Training Programs

Workplaces should provide comprehensive training to help both employers and employees better understand the nature of addiction, its impact on individuals, and the importance of compassion and support in the recovery process.

Resources and Support

It’s also important that employers offer resources that include information on recognizing signs of SUD. These can be in the form of posters, pamphlets, and online materials about SUD and the challenges faced by those struggling. This promotes learning while also offering appropriate support.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) also play a crucial role in supporting employees with SUD.
These programs offer:7
  • Confidential counseling
  • Referral services
  • A range of support options
These all help employees navigate their struggles with substance use disorder and employment during recovery.

Additional Benefits of EAPs

Additionally, EAPs can:
  • Connect employees with treatment providers, like New Choices Treatment Center, ensuring they receive personalized care tailored to their needs. 
  • Provide access to professional help and maintain confidentiality. 
  • Create a safe space for employees to address their issues, receive guidance, and embark on the path to recovery.
Employers should actively promote the availability of EAPs and encourage their use as a valuable resource for those in need.

Workplace Wellness Initiatives

Implementing workplace wellness initiatives is another effective strategy to support employee well-being and recovery.

Holistic Wellness Programs

Employers should implement workplace wellness programs that promote physical and mental well-being. This may include stress management techniques, healthy lifestyle workshops, and access to fitness facilities.

Supportive Work-Life Balance

It’s important for employees to have healthy work-life balance practices. This may happen through flexible work arrangements, paid time off policies, and resources for childcare or eldercare.

Peer Support Networks

Fostering a sense of community and belonging can occur by encouraging peer support networks or mentorship programs. These can provide additional encouragement and understanding.

Navigating Substance Use Disorder and Employment While Still Actively Employed

Balancing work with recovery from SUD can be challenging, but with support, it is absolutely achievable.
Here’s how both employers and employees can work together to facilitate a smooth journey:

Seeking Treatment

Encouraging employees to seek treatment for substance use disorder is essential. Employers can provide resources and information on accessing care, ensuring employees know where to turn for help.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements can also significantly support employees in treatment and recovery, helping them balance work and their health needs.
This can happen through:
  • Flexible Schedules: Adjustments in work hours can help accommodate treatment appointments.
  • Remote Work: Remote work options help reduce the stress of commuting but can still provide a comfortable work environment for individuals who still need treatment. 
  • Necessary Accommodations: Necessary accommodations, such as modified duties or reduced hours during critical treatment periods, can help with substance use disorder and employment. 

Peer Support and Accountability

Fostering supportive relationships among coworkers can create a strong network of peer support and accountability, enhancing the recovery process.
Some examples include:
  • Supportive Culture: A culture of openness, empathy, and understanding within the workplace can help provide support to all employees.
  • Peer Mentoring Programs: These formal peer mentoring programs can provide ongoing support.
  • Support Groups: Support groups within the workplace can help employees share experiences and encouragement.
  • Regular Check-ins: Regular check-ins between supervisors and employees will help monitor progress and provide additional support.

Substance Use Disorder and Employment: Returning to Work After Treatment

Collaborating with employers to develop individualized reintegration plans and transitional support for employees returning to work after treatment is crucial for a successful transition.
Individuals can do this by utilizing:
  • Customized Plans: Personalized reintegration plans based on the individual’s needs and circumstances can help with reintegration. 
  • Transitional Support: Transitional support, such as phased return-to-work schedules or temporary accommodations, will help ease the transition back into the workplace.
  • Communication: Open communication between employers, employees, and treatment providers ensures a smooth reintegration process.

Ongoing Support

Providing continued support, monitoring, and follow-up services is essential to ensure long-term success and wellness in recovery. This is especially true for individuals struggling with substance use disorder and employment.
This may include:
  • Check-in Sessions: Regular check-in sessions help monitor progress and address any challenges or concerns.
  • Access to Resources: Ongoing access to resources, such as counseling services, support groups, and wellness programs, can support employees in their recovery journey.
  • Flexible Support: Employers and treatment providers should stay flexible and responsive to the evolving needs of employees. This means they can adjust support services as needed to promote sustained recovery.

Addressing Workplace Challenges

Identifying potential triggers, stressors, and challenges in the workplace and implementing strategies for coping and resilience can help employees navigate potential obstacles.
For example, identifying potential triggers and stressors in the workplace, such as high-pressure deadlines or social situations involving alcohol, can help with aftercare and sobriety.
Also, employees will need to take advantage of coping strategies and tools to manage stress, cravings, and other challenges effectively.
By proactively addressing these aspects, employers can facilitate a successful transition back to work for employees after treatment.

NCTC's Role in Supporting Substance Use Disorder and Employment

At New Choices Treatment Center, we understand the importance of employment in fostering a sense of purpose, stability, and overall well-being during recovery.
Here’s how our comprehensive approach supports individuals in managing substance use disorder and employment:

Comprehensive Care

At New Choices Treatment Center, we provide comprehensive, evidence-based treatment, counseling, and support services. These are designed to empower individuals in managing substance use disorder while maintaining employment.

Evidence-Based Treatment

Our treatment modalities include person-centered care, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), trauma-informed care, and more. This helps ensure clients receive the most effective care for their needs.

Counseling Services

We offer individual and group counseling sessions to address the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction. This promotes mental well-being and resilience.

Support Services

Our aftercare services include case management for sober living arrangements, medication management, and ongoing support to ensure clients have a stable foundation for recovery.

Individualized Care

We understand that each individual’s journey is unique. Therefore, we tailor treatment plans to address the specific needs, goals, and circumstances of each client. This may include support for maintaining a job during substance use disorder and employment needs.

Personalized Treatment Plans

Our team develops individualized treatment plans that take into account the client’s work schedule, job responsibilities, and career goals to ensure they can continue working while undergoing treatment.

Flexible Treatment Options

We offer various levels of care, from intensive outpatient programs to outpatient drug programs. This allows clients to receive the support they need while balancing their professional commitments.

Skill Development

Our programs include life skills training, relapse prevention, and healthy living workshops. This equips clients with the tools they need to succeed both in recovery and in their professional lives.

Community Resources

Connecting clients with community resources, support groups, and services is a vital part of our approach to promoting long-term recovery and helping clients navigate employment challenges.
Substance Use Disorder and Employment

Navigating Substance Use Disorder and Employment at NCTC

Substance use disorder presents significant challenges for individuals and workplaces alike. However, with the right support systems, education, and compassionate care, it is possible to create a work environment that promotes recovery and success.
At New Choices Treatment Center we are committed to providing comprehensive, individualized care that empowers individuals to manage their SUD while maintaining employment. Our holistic approach ensures that clients receive the support they need to thrive both personally and professionally.

How Can We Help?

We work with you to help you or your loved one navigate the difficulties of substance use disorder and employment, along with any other symptoms you may have. Our dual diagnosis program and skilled staff ensure that you get the healing support you need during every step.

Create a Healthier Future With New Choices

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, don’t wait to seek help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one on the path to recovery and sustained employment.
Together, we can make recovery possible through connection, compassion, and comprehensive care.