Substance Abuse in the Workplace Resources

Most employers want their workers to be healthy and successful. They may even provide programs that help people in recovery from addiction maintain sobriety. Transitioning back to work is a key component of addiction recovery, and many workplaces have tools to make the process easier.
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Alcohol and drug abuse are often viewed as a taboo topic in the workplace. Companies that receive federal funding are required to maintain a drug-free workplace, and many companies adopt voluntary drug-free workplace policies. Some employers have zero tolerance policies for substance abuse.

It can be intimidating for a person in the early stages of recovery to accept a job at a workplace that forbids substance abuse. But those policies can also be helpful motivators. Drug-free workplace policies can incentivize sobriety.

Few workplaces have programs specifically designed for people in recovery, but many employers offer programs that can benefit those committed to maintaining long-term sobriety.

Many companies offer programs that help employees with:
  • Work-life balance
  • Time management
  • Stress relief
  • Conflict resolution
  • Financial planning
  • Career planning

People in recovery can participate in these programs to overcome common workplace triggers and stressors. They can also use other workplace resources to find motivation and increase their capacity to avoid relapse.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee assistance programs provide an array of free resources for employees. Participation in the programs is confidential. If you’re struggling with cravings, stress or other issues, you can contact your EAP and access a counselor or therapist over the phone or online.

Therapists can help you address alcohol use, drug use or mental health issues such as stress, grief, family problems and workplace conflict. EAPs can also connect you with local support groups, and they can coach you through self-help programs.

Training and Educational Programs

Many companies, especially those in high-risk industries, host educational workshops about the dangers of drug use or excessive alcohol consumption. Participation may be mandatory or optional. You may think you know everything about substance abuse because you’ve been to rehab or self-help groups, but there’s always room to expand your knowledge.

Take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about alcohol or drug use. The workshops or programs may introduce you to resources that you didn’t know existed. They can also provide opportunities to get to know your co-workers and expand your support network.

Drug Testing

Drug tests can be intimidating if you think you’re at high risk of relapse. If you’re struggling with slips into drug use, it’s important to notify your employer before you fail a drug test.

Disclosing your issues with substance abuse may help you keep your job. While some rehab programs require people to take a leave of absence to focus on their recovery during treatment, it may be possible to keep your job during rehab.

If you’re stable in recovery, drug tests can be a welcomed checkpoint. Passing a drug test can provide a sense of accomplishment and demonstrate how far you’ve come in recovery. Knowing that your employer tests for drug use can also increase your motivation for maintaining sobriety.

Stress-Relief Opportunities

In addition to EAPs and periodic workshops, some workplaces offer stress relief tools that workers can access on a regular basis. Some workplaces house yoga rooms or exercise areas. Many employees can take breaks or go on walks throughout the workday.

Workplaces may even provide break rooms where employees can de-stress by watching TV or playing video games. Take advantage of opportunities to relieve stress whenever you feel overwhelmed. But be sure not to overindulge. A piece of chocolate from the snack bar can cheer you up, but snacking throughout the day or taking frequent smoke breaks can cause other health problems that lead to stress and agitation.

Human Resources

Many causes of workplace stressors can be resolved. High workloads, short deadlines, inadequate training, co-worker conflict or overbearing managers can ruin a person’s work experience. Some of these conflicts can be resolved by talking to a manager, but sometimes it’s necessary to get human resources involved.

Contacting the human resources department can be intimidating, but it’s your human resource representative’s job to advocate for a fair and healthy work environment. Your co-workers in human resources can teach you about the helpful tools available to you, and they can resolve workplace conflicts.

Working in an environment that has relaxed attitudes toward alcohol abuse and drug use can increase your chances of relapse. Strict environments that drug test or have zero-tolerance policies toward substance abuse can provide structure and motivation for maintaining sobriety.

Those types of workplaces are usually more likely to offer EAPs, personal growth workshops and other resources that make going to work a more enjoyable experience. But the resources are only beneficial if you use them.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Matt Gonzales
Content Writer,
Matt Gonzales is a writer and researcher for He graduated with a degree in journalism from East Carolina University and began his professional writing career in 2011. Matt covers the latest drug trends and shares inspirational stories of people who have overcome addiction. Certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in health literacy, Matt leverages his experience in addiction research to provide hope to those struggling with substance use disorders.

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