Going Back to Work After Rehab

going back to work after rehab

You have successfully completed treatment for your addiction to drugs or alcohol and are ready to return to your job. Restarting your career can be challenging after addiction treatment. Going back to work after rehab can involve dealing with questions, legalities, and stigma.

Stigma of Addiction and Rehab

When you were using drugs or alcohol, you may have felt the stigma associated with addiction. Even as you entered treatment, there was a stigma attached to the fact that you were taking positive steps toward getting well. Going back to work after rehab involves its own type of stigma, as co-workers, employers, and employees may wonder where you’ve been and whether you’re now fit for your profession.

Addressing Your Absence

On going back to work after rehab, you will undoubtedly be faced with questions about your absence. It is up to you as to whether you want to answer those questions, beyond any legal requirements set forth by your profession and your employer. Co-workers may wonder why you are no longer joining them at the bar after work. They may question why you were out of work for so long.

Being honest is usually the best way to handle these questions. While you don’t have to reveal every detail, trying to make up excuses – and keeping up with them – can add extra stress to your return to work that you really don’t need right now. This is a good time to put into place all the life lessons you learned in addiction treatment and own your sobriety as well as your new way of living.

Legal Protection

When you are recovering from substance abuse, your employer may be subject to federal laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Title I of the ADA protects qualified individuals from employment discrimination. The wording in the EEOC Technical Assistance Manual reads:

“A person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection simply because of the alcohol use. An alcoholic is a person with a disability under the ADA and may be entitled to consideration of accommodation, if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of a job. However, an employer may discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct to the extent that s/he is not ‘qualified.'”

If you were using illegal drugs at work previously, you were not protected under this regulation, but you are protected as a recovering addict. The EEOC Technical Assistance Manual states that:

“Persons addicted to drugs, but who are no longer using drugs illegally and are receiving treatment for drug addiction or who have been rehabilitated successfully, are protected by the ADA from discrimination on the basis of past drug addiction.”

Monitoring Requirements

As a professional going back to work after rehab, you will probably be subject to monitoring programs to ensure that you are no longer using or misusing substances such as drugs and alcohol that will affect your job performance. These monitoring programs have been proven to help pilots, physicians, and other professionals in safety-sensitive positions successfully sustain their recovery from addiction. Individuals participating in professional laboratory monitoring programs, such as that offered by Providence Treatment, have a higher recovery rate at 90% over three years than individuals who are not tested regularly.

Providence Treatment also offers professionals a program known as Aftercare Integration Services, that helps you develop a plan for going back to work after rehab. The aftercare service includes help with connecting you to program providers in your home community as well as building a transition program through 12-step meetings and sober activities. You will also have ongoing phone contact, work scheduling and time management assistance, and the opportunity to connect with retraining agencies in your profession when necessary.

Addiction Treatment for Professionals in Philadelphia

At Providence Treatment, we help professionals in the medical, legal, and aviation fields, among others, overcome their addiction to alcohol and drugs. We also help you when you are going back to work after rehab, with effective aftercare services. When you are ready to get outpatient addiction treatment in Philadelphia, we are ready to help you. Our expertise is in serving high-profile clients and licensed professionals like you.

Don’t let addiction to alcohol or drugs take over your life. You can overcome addiction at Providence Treatment. If you need help getting clean, then contact us at 484.469.9592, and you can begin your recovery as soon as possible.


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