How to Get Sober When You Have a Job

Writing for a recovery blog, an issue we see quite often is people wanting treatment or info on how to get sober from alcohol or drugs, but also needing to balance work life and pressure from a career. This is a completely obvious issue that many people will face. Although the stigma and prejudice surrounding drug and alcohol treatment might suggest that people needing help would not be working, this could not be further from the truth. As millions of people have faced the challenge of getting sober from alcohol and drugs, this includes people from every possible background and socioeconomic circumstance. Are people seeking treatment more likely to have faced issues at work or gaps in employment? Absolutely. Every part of life is negatively affected by addiction and out-of-control alcohol and drug use. Problems at work or finding work is a primary reason that many people seek help with alcohol and drug use, but many people face the related issue of needing treatment while also trying to keep their job. Many entrepreneurs or business owners work heavier hours than others or are even workaholics by their own admission. This type of job-related stress can lead to substance abuse issues and other mental health challenges. Even if the business or job is going well, the personal life and physical and mental health can suffer all at the same time. If you are a person who is facing the challenge of keeping a job or staying productive while seeking treatment, this article topic is for you. We also have links to more information available on getting sober and answers to common questions, including “how long does it take to get sober”, at the bottom of this article.

Education and Openness Can Lead to Success

Let me describe a situation that I see play out quite often in people’s lives. A person is struggling with alcohol or drugs. This person also has a job that is important to them. For a short period of time, alcohol or drugs may not have an adverse effect on work performance. However, addiction and dependency to substances will cause sick days or gaps in performance that would not have been there before. People who are actively using drugs or alcohol every day are unable to see how obvious it may be to people around them that something is wrong. The employee tries to hide the substance abuse and addiction issues they are having. The lie becomes worse than the truth ever was, and the person loses friends and coworkers trust, because of the inability to be honest about their own circumstances.

Mental health and addiction are not well understood out in the real world, but that does not mean keeping a secret over time is the way to go. If a person is succeeding at a job over time, some level of trust has been built. Telling coworkers or an employer that you need treatment and are committed to getting help for substance use disorder (addiction) will often build more trust rather than disrupting work in the way one might expect. An employer might have concerns about how much work you might miss for treatment, or they might not react in the way you would want them to in a perfect world, but the vast majority of employers are not going to fire an employee if the employee is honest and up front about a need to seek medical care. In 2021, addiction treatment is necessary medical care, and no employer, big or small, will want to disregard the serious medical needs of an employee. Do not begin the cycle of lying to an employer. If you have been living a lie, come clean now. Most likely, being honest with an employer, or even clients, about your need to seek treatment will be an asset in the long run. Most people do not discuss recovery in a work environment, but in 2021 most people will already have a family or loved one who has faced alcoholism or drug addiction, and most people will have a positive response to honesty and a commitment to seek treatment and work on getting sober. If someone does not want the healthiest version of you, they may not be an ideal client or employer. No job or amount of money is worth the heartache that eventually results from continuing to drink and use drugs in a problematic way. Make a change, and invite the people in your life to respond positively to your positive decision to seek help!

Scheduling and Logistics of Treatment and Work

If you are seeking medical help for serious alcohol or drug use disorder, inpatient care will be the priority during the first 30 days of treatment. If you cannot imagine yourself being unable to take and make work phone calls for 30 days, there are other avenues that might work for you. If you are using drugs or alcohol often, detox may be a necessary step. If you are able to go to inpatient detox for 7 days or less, you might be able to find successful recovery by committing to long term outpatient treatment after detox. It is important to say that the mental and physical dependency to alcohol and other drugs, particularly opioids and methamphetamine, often requires a period of inpatient care followed by outpatient care for an even longer period of time. Good providers will discuss every option with you, and medical personnel and counselors will be able to discuss the seriousness of your disease and options that will fit your work schedule. If 30 days of inpatient care will help to heal you, telling an employer or clients you will be gone for a few weeks may be the only reasonable option for future success. If less intense forms of treatment will work for you, that is great, but these decisions are best made with a medical provider. Your health should come first. And when it comes to addiction and getting sober from alcohol and drugs, your health is paramount for every person that is close to you and depends on you. This disease is serious, and it is best to treat it seriously from the moment you first reach out for help. I wish you the best of luck.

Here is more information on alcoholism and getting sober… How Long Does it Take to Sober Up.

If you have questions about how to get sober, or how long it takes to get sober, call us today to speak to our intake specialists and counselors.

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at