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A modern, community-based approach to addiction treatment for Men and Women in Charleston, SC

Does It Work? Weighing Employment While in Rehab

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Key takeaways:

  • Rates of stable employment after rehab are a significant predictor of long-term outcomes.
  • Traditional rehab often enforces sobriety without allowing individuals to work during the process.
  • Working during rehab can have advantages, including maintaining self-esteem, accountability, building camaraderie, practicing coping skills in real-life situations, and earning money.
  • Working in rehab allows individuals to create new relationships and support networks outside of addiction.
  • Time constraints and potential mismatch with skillset and education are disadvantages of seeking employment in rehab.
  • Lantana Recovery offers an Empowerment Program that allows individuals to work during their recovery, recognizing the benefits of maintaining employment during rehab.

According to the Journal of Substance Abuse and Treatment, rates of stable employment after rehab are often one of the best predictors of long-term outcomes. However, one of the disadvantages of traditional rehab is that you can’t work during the process. A traditional rehab offers a cocoon away from your substance of choice. It is enforced sobriety.

What happens when you get out of rehab? How will you face the challenges that life presents? What skills have you built, and how have you trained using them? For many typical 28-day rehab facilities, the answer is forced Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This article will explore the pros and cons of choosing a treatment facility that allows you to work during recovery as studies have shown that “among the individuals provided with workplace rehabilitation and supportive conditions, working degree increased significantly more over time compared to those individuals with no workplace rehabilitation and no supportive conditions” (Workplace Rehabilitation and Supportive Conditions at Work: A Prospective Study, Ahlstrom et al., 2013 ) Through our Empowerment Program, Lantana Recovery offers this option.

Advantages of Employment in Rehab

While in rehab, finding employment can have many benefits as being engaged in gainful work provides economic security, and the workplace is an important place of social integration for the majority of people in our society. Consider the following:


Working during rehab allows you to maintain your self-esteem. Often when rehab is accompanied by a break from a career, there is a tax on an individual’s self-worth. A person doesn’t know what to say when asked, “So what do you do?” It’s difficult to respond, “Well, I’m actually in rehab.” Working during rehab allows you to have an answer to this question. You won’t have to awkwardly stammer when asked where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing with your life.


Working during rehab forces you to be accountable to a boss in an open environment. You don’t have a choice as to whether to function; you have to in order to keep your job. It’s good practice for living on the outside. While in rehab, many things are done for you. Having a job in rehab forces you to use your own self-discipline to maintain an important relationship in your life. This exercises important mental muscles.


If you’re in rehab, chances are you’ve lost touch with important relationships in your life. You may not want to tell anyone that you’ve taken the plunge. Or, you may have destroyed key relationships as a result of your use of your substance of choice.

Working allows you to create new relationships in an area you may live in upon discharge. This begins the therapeutic process of building your network while still under the supervision of clinical staff and benefiting from the therapeutic milieu of your rehab facility.

Work friends can be a great source of support and diversify your network. This way, not every relationship in your life is based on the commonality of addiction. According to Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, a strong post-discharge support system is critical to your capacity to remain sober. Working while in rehab puts you on your way to making this a reality.

Practice Makes Perfect

Working allows you to practice the skills you are learning in rehab in your everyday life. If you are someone who struggles with alcohol use, you’ll be challenged to avoid happy hours or a drink if you are under the gun at work. If you abuse stimulants, you’ll be challenged to forgo them while under the pressure of your job. The point is that you’re able to maintain practicing going up against the cravings life will throw at you while still benefiting from clinical guidance.

It’s easy to be sober when you’re solely focused on that singular goal. However, when other challenges creep in around that — such as a long day, a difficult boss, or temptations from peers — the situation becomes clouded. You want to learn how to navigate those cloudy situations while still in rehab and be practiced at it.


Earning money is a great benefit to working while in rehab. Although often covered by insurance, rehab can be expensive. Even just the loss of income can be difficult to cope with financially.

Working while in rehab can assuage the loss of income and provide some additional spending money. For those who may have been unemployed or are in a younger demographic and haven’t worked much, it’s an opportunity to build a resume and practice managing money under the tutelage of a clinical care team.

Disadvantages of Finding Employment in Rehab

While there are many benefits to seeking employment in rehab, there are also disadvantages, including the following.

Time Constraints

With the time committed to the first phase of rehab, it may be difficult to continue working or to begin working a full-time job. Moreover, the stress associated with such a position may not be appropriate.

The time constraints in rehab are real, whether it’s wanting to participate in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), art therapy, group therapy, horticulture therapy, or a whole host of therapies offered by a facility. As such, an arrangement may need to be made with your job to work around the therapeutic commitments.

Employment You’re Overqualified For

Because you’ll likely be working a part-time job in rehab, it may not always dovetail precisely with your skillset and education. Because of this, you may find yourself in a job for which you are overqualified. For example, you may find that a local retail store has an opening that allows you to work 20 hours a week, even though you are trained in finance.

Accept these opportunities as growing experiences. They won’t last forever and will allow you to practice everything you’ve learned in an environment that will at least somewhat mirror the demands of a future workplace.

Bottom Line

Lantana Recovery recognizes that working during recovery has many advantages. That’s why we provide a wealth of services available on an as-needed basis to allow for the opportunity to work while still in rehab. These advantages include self-esteem, accountability, and camaraderie. These are benefits that are hard to replicate outside of the working environment. Lantana recognizes this, which is why our team is committed to facilitating work opportunities for clients and providing clinical guidance for those who seek it.

Addiction Recovery Publishing

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.