Recovery is possible. We are open 24/7. 866-797-7962

Medically Reviewed

5 Tips for a Successful Return to Work After Rehab

- 10 sections

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Drug and alcohol addiction can impact your life in many ways. It can affect your functioning, health, and emotional well-being. It can prevent you from performing at work or even working at all.

Getting help for substance abuse is one of the best decisions you can make. Getting treatment and support can help you overcome an addiction and move forward.

However, many people put off getting treatment due to concerns about leaving work. People may wonder if they can lose their job or how they will transition back into the workplace after rehab.

Several laws protect your employment during treatment. This allows you to seek treatment without affecting your long-term employment.

Transitioning back to work may feel challenging, but there are steps you can take to make the process smoother. This article will provide information about returning to work after rehab.

What you will learn:

  • What laws protect employment
  • Tips for returning to work after rehab
  • How to find addiction treatment and recovery support

Contact the Carolina Center for Recovery specialists to learn about our holistic addiction treatment and support programs. Take the first step of your recovery journey by scheduling an intake assessment now.

What Laws Protect My Job During Rehab?

Several federal laws protect your employment during rehab. Here is a brief overview of two of these laws.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employment for people who meet specific criteria and require substance abuse treatment. To be eligible for FMLA, you must:

  • Work for a company with at least 50 employees
  • Enroll in a professional treatment program during your leave of absence
  • Have worked for the company for at least 12 consecutive months and have worked a minimum of 1250 hours during that period

People who are eligible for FMLA protection may take up to 12 weeks to seek treatment for mental health conditions or addiction. When you return to work, your employer must offer you the same or similar position you held before your leave.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against or firing employees with substance use disorder (SUD). Under the ADA, you may be eligible for an altered work schedule that allows you to attend treatment and recovery-related appointments and other activities.

Returning to work after rehab will be easier if you take steps to prepare before you go. Before taking a leave of absence to go to rehab, work with your Human Resources (HR) department to schedule your leave.

5 Tips to Make Going Back to Work After Rehab Easier

Returning to work after rehab can be intimidating, exciting, overwhelming–or a mixture of these emotions. Making a plan to address common issues can help you have a smoother transition back into the workplace.

Here are five tips to make it easier to return to work after rehab.

1. Decide what you will share with coworkers.

Before returning to work, decide what you will share with your colleagues about your leave of absence. Thinking about what to say or how to respond to questions can help you feel more confident.

Consider what you would like to share. You could even practice saying your answers out loud. You are in charge of how much you share and what you keep private.

2. Make a return-to-work plan.

Work with your employer to create a return-to-work plan that works for you. Discuss any accommodations you may need. Be clear about changes in your work schedule and treatment goals.

Your employer should support your transition back into the workplace. Be upfront about your needs, and work together to create a plan that meets both of your needs.

3. Focus on self-care

Returning to work after rehab can be stressful. It is important to continue good self-care practices. Eat well, prioritize rest and sleep, and continue engaging in recovery-related activities.

Watch for signs of stress and burnout. Use the coping skills you learned during treatment to reduce stress and manage challenges. Join a support group and attend 12-step meetings. Prioritize your mental and physical health during this transition.

4. Use an employee assistance program (EAP)

Take advantage of your employer’s employee assistance program (EAP). An EAP may offer counseling, support groups, and on-the-job resources to support overall mental health.

5. Find support

Recovering from addiction can be isolating and lonely. At times, you may feel alone in your thoughts and feelings. Finding a community to support you during your transition into the workplace is crucial.

Connect with local support groups, online communities, sober living communities, and supportive friends and family members. Staying socially active can help you support long-term recovery and manage new challenges.

Find Help Now

Addiction recovery is challenging, but getting the right support can help you overcome it. Learn more about returning to work after rehab or schedule an intake assessment by contacting the specialists at the Carolina Center for Recovery.