Finding a Job After Rehab Can Be Stressful

Maintaining a career or finding a job after rehab  (or being out of the workforce for any reason) and transitioning back into the real world can be stressful. One may feel uncertain of what to expect, or unsure of how others will see or value them. The individual leaving a treatment facility or outpatient program may feel their job skills are rusty and be hyper aware of the perceived negative judgements of others. Nevertheless, work is a necessary component to establishing wellbeing and maintaining a sense of purpose after rehab.

Tools for Finding a Job After Rehab

Fortunately, a patient who has completed rehab has developed interpersonal skills that can increase their social presence and sense of purpose. In addition to this, some facilities offer job placement services in order to decrease the stress associated with job searching. Some facilities offer job development programs staffed with placement specialists, employed to assist in one’s marketability and career enhancement.

Patients who have left a treatment facility should take time to update their resume and include new references. They can pull from their peer groups they’ve made in a 12-Step program, or facility staff who thought highly of them. Thus, they have made connections they can use to find jobs with increased  certainty.

Going Back to Your Old Job After Rehab

Some employers offer employees who have gone to rehab the opportunity to return. This does pose pros and cons, however.  Getting an old job back can ease the job hunt. However, the ex-patient has to realize circumstances have changed at work, and there can be obstacles. New challenges would include dealing with judgements of others. Former colleagues may gossip, or keep someone at arm’s length, ignorant to the growth and healing potential treatment has. However, this is mitigated by the fact that going into treatment is generally confidential, and other colleagues do not know unless the individual tells them.

This form of job stress can create the temptation to reuse the substances someone entered rehab for. Here, the employee has to recall helpful coping strategies learned in rehab to maintain sobriety. It would also be beneficial to maintain a close relationship with your boss and maintain a strong sense of identity. Having a central focus of resisting temptation and seeing one’s self as “new and improved” may be a reminder to not engage in old habits.

Career Searching: Making Connections

If the idea of returning to an old job is not an option, going to networking events in your town can encourage new job connections. There are adverts for job fairs that offer new opportunities to build skills and earn an income. Additionally, remembering your motivation and staying focused can help an individual present their best self post-rehab.

Having a Support System

Help From Loved Ones Can Be Critical In Finding A Job After RehabHaving friends and family to support someone during this time is key in keeping someone inspired. Family and friends can help to look out for job prospects. They can use their network to help ex-patients transition into the job world. Family members and friends can pose as potential employers and serve as someone to practice one to master interviews. Lastly, they can encourage their loved one to stay the course despite setbacks.

Finding Balance Amidst the Stress

A key component of managing new career responsibilities and maintaining a life of sobriety is balance. When someone finds a new job, they can find themselves working long hours. Perhaps the career has filled a void in some, or they have a new sense of purpose. Having a great work-life balance, or volunteering to connect with others may bring about balance. Working and developing wellness through exercising, travel, and other methods can decrease stress. Finding balance is a unique and personal experience many can experiment with, as long as it is healthy.

Gratitude for the Process

A major component of success in a personal sense is one’s attitude. It’s helpful to remember gratitude can be a strong motivating force in reassuring one’s self and staying focused. Potential employers will notice the positive attitude and grateful words emerging from someone who has had a challenging past. A few tips on staying grateful during a job search include:

  • Acting as you would if you were looking for a job before leaving rehab
  • Remaining confident and calm during interviews and during a job search
  • Maintaining confidence and focus despite disappointments
  • Establishing positive self-talk to discourage negative feelings and thoughts from arising
  • Expressing gratitude to employers and for recovery if asked
  • Remembering to be patient with one’s self as they are transitioning

Mastering self-compassion and being grateful for your healing journey produces a humble attitude, while it encourages self-acceptance. Alternatively, negative thoughts can work against you to zap your motivation. Additionally, discouraging thoughts can dampen your drive and make you give up. It can also create anxiety and depressive moods, and some can be tempted to rely on drugs for relief.

Recalling Wisdom From Rehab

Focus on what you’ve gained in rehab. For instance, have treatments focusing on relationships and accountability encouraged you to have a brighter view of others? Emphasize these qualities in interviews if prompted or comfortable. These can show prospective employers the value you bring to the table, as well as your growth. Lastly, remaining patient and developing the right attitude and faith can be a great help.

Author: Krystina Murray – Last Edited: June 28, 2021

Clinically Reviewed by: Theresa Parisi – Last Reviewed: October 2, 2019

Our Clinical Reviewers are certified addiction professionals who verify the information on Opioid Help to make sure we provide the most accurate, correct, and updated information to our readers.

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Ciulla, Anna. (2017).b 6 Tips For Finding Employment After Rehab. Retrieved On February 27, 2019 at

Hughes, Brian. (2017). Substance Abuse In The Workplace: What To Do When An Employee Returns From Rehab. Retrieved On February 27, 2019 at