What is a Recovery-Ready Workplace?

man and woman walking down office hall conversing and laughing

Recovery-ready workplaces adopt policies and practices that:

  • expand employment opportunities for people in or seeking recovery;
  • facilitate help-seeking among employees with substance use disorder (SUD);
  • ensure access to needed services, including treatment, recovery support, and mutual aid;
  • inform employees in recovery that they may have the right to reasonable accommodations and other protections that can help them keep their jobs;
  • reduce the risk of substance misuse1 and SUD, including through education and steps to prevent injury in the workplace;
  • educate all levels of the organization on SUD and recovery, working to reduce stigma and misunderstanding, including by facilitating open discussion on the topic; and,
  • ensure that prospective and current employees understand that the employer is recovery-ready and are familiar with relevant policies and resources.

Employers, employees, customers, and society all benefit from recovery-ready workplace policies. Among the benefits are an expanded labor force, increased worker well-being, decreased turnover, improved productivity, and reduced health care costs. Employers adopting such policies help to reduce societal stigma and misunderstanding by fostering a culture in which SUD is recognized as a treatable health condition from which one can recovery, and people in or seeking recovery are welcomed and supported in the workplace.

Recovery-ready workplaces may:

  • Develop and implement innovative approaches for recruiting and onboarding people in or seeking recovery, such as second-chance and supported employment models (such as Individual Placement and Support) for people who have SUD or are in recovery from it;
  • Leverage tax credits, bonding programs, and partnerships (e.g., with treatment, recovery support, and workforce organizations; problem-solving courts; and other public or private entities) to employ people with or in recovery from SUD and/or to meet the needs of current employees with or in recovery from SUD;
  • Adopt explicit branding as recovery-ready or recovery-friendly/recovery-supportive employers, communicating what that designation means not only to current and prospective employees, but to customers, industry groups, and the broader community;
  • Establish a team specifically responsible for leading efforts to become and remain a recovery-ready workplace; and,
  • Launch or accommodate peer support networks that may deploy recovery mentors or peer specialists and educators in the workplace.

The federal government, non-federal public sector, and the private sector can all establish recovery-ready workplaces. Additionally, states, local governments, unions, trade or industry groups, chambers of commerce, or independent entities such as community-based organizations, can lead multi-employer efforts that offer training, technical assistance, consultation, and certification as recovery-ready workplaces.

1 Here the term "substance misuse" means use of prescription drugs other than prescribed or without a prescription, problem use of alcohol, or any use of illegal drugs.