In Clearbrook Treatment Centers Pennsylvania, Personal Resources

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking for even the most prepared interviewees. The person sitting across from you is judging your every answer and ultimately deciding your fate at their company. You need to be prepared to answer questions about everything from your employment history to your duties at your current position. For the person going to job interviews in recovery for an addiction, these meetings can be especially dreadful as they struggle with the decision to disclose or not to disclose their addiction. To help those in recovery seeking employment, our experts at Clearbrook Pennsylvania rehab share some tips on handling job interviews after rehab.

Can Employers Ask About Past Drug Use?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), when it comes to pre-offer employment inquiries, employers cannot ask about past addiction to illegal drugs or whether the individual went to rehab. These questions are prohibited because they are disability-related, as drug addiction is generally considered a disability.1

However, if the individual hasn’t started a job but they’ve been offered one, an employer can:1

  • Make medical inquiries, require medical exams, and ask disability-related questions provided the employer did so for all individuals within that job category.
  • Ask questions about the use of alcohol or drugs, or extent of use, or whether the diagnosis of addiction to alcohol or drugs is lawful.

At this stage, the individual must be honest about a disability if asked.

When an individual is already hired, employers are permitted to ask questions related to disabilities and conduct medical examinations only if these inquiries are directly linked to the job and are deemed essential for business operations. This means that employers should inquire only when there are valid, fact-based grounds to believe that a disability might influence or has the potential to impact job performance or the safety of the public. Employees are encouraged to reveal their disabilities when requesting accommodations that facilitate their work requirements.

Tips for Getting a Job After Addiction

Many people who come to our rehab in Pennsylvania do so after hitting rock bottom. After treatment is over, they still need to start putting their lives back together and for many, this includes finding a new job.

Job interviews after rehab come with some added challenges. Some people were fired from their last job because of their addiction and others have gaps in their employment history because of their time spent at an inpatient rehab. Neither looks great on a resume, but both are salvageable. Even the stigma surrounding addiction itself could negatively impact your chances of getting the position, but these job interview tips for recovering addicts could just help you land your dream job.

Know Your Rights

Dependent on the stage of employment, employers are not allowed to ask you about your past substance abuse or to decide whether or not you get the job based solely on your history of addiction. It is completely up to you to decide how much you want to share about your recovery as well as if you want to say anything about it at all. If you do decide to disclose your substance abuse history to the interviewer, they are not allowed to share that information with colleagues either.

However, the information you have to disclose to potential employers changes depending on the stage of employment you’re in, whether that’s without a job offer or with a job offer. If you’re searching for employment after addiction, we encourage you to do your research.

Weigh the Pros & Cons

There are some negatives and positives to telling your employer about being in recovery. Some job positions may have different views on addiction recovery as well. Although they are not legally allowed to hold your past addiction against you, it may still impact their decision.

On the other hand, telling your potential employer upfront may have some benefits. Being open about your recovery allows you to frame the conversation. If you choose not to disclose and they find out later, it may create distrust or discomfort in the workplace.

Also, if they discover you were once an addict based on an online search, it lets their imagination run wild. Telling the employer at the interview lets you find this information out before you get the job.

Be Prepared

If you have large gaps in your employment history or you were fired from a job in the past, the employer is likely going to ask why. Be prepared with professional answers to these questions and practice them beforehand.

You have to learn a way to explain your past addiction in a job interview that comes off professionally. While you do not need to go into great detail involving your past substance abuse, you do need to have an answer. Sometimes saying something as simple as you were going through a tough time in your life but got help and have now moved forward is sufficient.

Be Honest

While you may want to avoid disclosing your past addiction in a job interview after rehab, that does not mean you should lie to the interviewer. You need to be honest with your potential future employer.

If you do not want to disclose your struggle with addiction, you can always be a little vague in questions where it could come up. Lying could get you into serious trouble later on.

Be Brief

Job interviews after rehab can be nerve-wracking for people in recovery because they want to be upfront about their former addiction, but they are not sure how much they should share. Stay on the safe side and keep it brief.

You do not need to share stories about your time at rock bottom or go into detail about your drug detox program. Be concise with your descriptions and only disclose what you feel you need to.

While you may have good intentions, too many details may cause you to say something in a way that does not come off well or makes your previous addiction the star of the interview. You are being interviewed, not your past addiction.

Focus on the Positive

If you do decide to disclose your sobriety in a job interview, try to frame your experience positively. Instead of talking about your time at rock bottom, focus on how much you have learned and how you have turned your life around for the better. This optimistic perspective helps frame your recovery in a positive light and can reassure your potential employer that you have no intention of going back.

Best Jobs for Recovering Addicts

If you’re searching for employment for recovering addicts, here are some great job opportunities that may be a great fit:

  • Counselor/Therapist
  • Healthcare Assistant
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Retail or Customer Service
  • Delivery Driver
  • Truck Driver
  • Food Service Worker
  • Warehouse Worker
  • Data Entry/Office Clerk
  • Craftsperson
  • Pet Care Services

These are just a few of the many jobs for recovering addicts that you may be perfect for. It’s important to note that some positions require a degree, so if you’re interested in a position such as a counselor or a therapist, you’ll have to go back to school unless you already have a related degree. But since you’re sober, the sky is the limit!

Need Addiction Help?

Handling a job interview in recovery isn’t easy, but these tips could help you take steps in the right direction. At Clearbrook Treatment Centers, we help people find lasting recovery from substance abuse disorders so that they can work toward happier, healthier, and more productive lives.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, call Clearbrook rehab today at 570-536-9621 or contact us online to learn how our addiction treatment in Pennsylvania can help.


  1. ADA – The ADA, Addiction, Recovery, and Employment

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