How to Maintain a Drug-Free Workplace While in Recovery

Avoiding Substance Use in the Workplace

Many people in treatment for substance use disorder look forward to going back to work and maintaining stable employment while working on their recovery goals. A job provides many benefits for those treating substance use disorder: a routine to keep busy and a predictable schedule, money to help rebuild the damage of addiction, afford an independent lifestyle, and much more. However, going back to work can bring up worries for many, especially in specific industries with high instances of workplace substance misuse.

While people in recovery can’t control the world around them, especially at work, essential measures can be taken to prevent triggers and bad situations while maintaining employment.

1. Choose the right job

Many people feel as though they don’t deserve to be selective about their employment when in recovery because they are “lucky to be employed at all.” This mentality lingers from the outdated stigma surrounding addiction and even those actively in treatment and recovery to improve their lives. It’s time for society to collectively abandon this attitude towards the unrelenting punishment of people with chronic illnesses like substance use disorder.

Those in recovery have every right to be discerning when it comes to choosing their vocation, especially if the environment could put their sobriety at risk due to workplace substance use. There is no logical reason to make things harder for people who diligently work to better themselves, often working much harder than people who have not overcome their struggles. Avoiding industries with a high turnover rate, stressful working conditions, high-pressure workplace environments, and unstable scheduling is one way to safeguard future recovery.

2. Communicate with coworkers

People who misuse substances on the job know it’s illegal and it could cost them their livelihood, but many of them are also struggling with untreated addiction or rampant substance misuse. Still, those in recovery should not have to fear exposure to these behaviors while in the workplace. Opening communication with coworkers who routinely use on the worksite and offer substances to others can be essential to stopping these occurrences and potentially helping them seek treatment. Those in treatment who encounter this situation should advise their substance use counselor to decide on the proper course of action. Otherwise, speaking with the coworker, notifying a supervisor, or leaving an anonymous tip are all possible solutions.

3. Avoid gatherings unrelated to work

It’s common for coworkers to meet for lunch or after work and enjoy happy hour, but those events are best avoided if they are known to misuse substances in the workplace. This can be difficult because maintaining a social disposition at work can be both personally and professionally beneficial. Proposing an activity that doesn’t involve being around substance use can provide a neutral medium to engage with colleagues without risking sobriety. Some people may feel comfortable sharing their recovery status with others in the workplace, which can remedy social situations that could be uncomfortable. Still, creative solutions can work for those who prefer to keep their past with addiction to themselves.

4. Speak up

If substance use at a job site occurs during a specific shift, time of day, or while certain workers are present, speaking to a supervisor may be necessary. Of course, no one wants to be a “tattletale,” but substance misuse in the workplace is a major concern for employers and a massive liability issue! In certain industries, a worker under the influence can cause severe injury or death, among many other dangers to fellow coworkers. Thankfully, many companies have recently responded to the increase in substance misuse in the workplace with additional resources for those who need treatment and other support.

Middlesex Recovery is dedicated to helping people with substance use disorder seek effective treatment. A team of specialized medical providers, nurse practitioners, and administrative staff provides patients with evidence-based, compassionate care in the privacy of a professional outpatient medical office. Locate a nearby Middlesex Recovery facility and call or message us today for more information.