Jobs for Recovering Addicts: How to Get Your Career on Track

One of the most important ways to stay sober is to occupy your time and energy with a career. Here’s how to find the best jobs for recovering addicts.

Living with purpose is a cornerstone of the recovery process. That’s why pursuing a career is one of the most beneficial steps a person can make.

Careers not only develop purpose, but they also cultivate accountability, responsibility, management, communication, and more. In fact, the skills you learn in recovery overlap with the skills you gain from a rewarding career.

Most importantly, you need a stable career that aligns with the goals of your long-term recovery plan. This means some jobs are more suited for people leaving recovery than others.

Let’s take a look at the best jobs for recovering addicts to help you find the right career path.

Jobs to Avoid

It’s crucial to avoid careers that thrust you back toward addiction. Avoid any and all work environments where alcohol (or recreational drugs) are present. No job is worth compromising all your hard work.

Steer clear of these career paths after leaving recovery:

  • Bartender
  • Pharmacy associate
  • Liquor store clerk
  • Beverage host
  • Club doorman
  • Bar promoter

It’s so important to avoid careers that present potential triggers for relapse. These also include emotional triggers like stress. That’s why it’s best to avoid high-stress jobs immediately after recovery.

Corporate executive positions, jobs in law enforcement, and public relations are all high-stress jobs to think twice about.

Remember, talk to your recovery counselor and sponsor about which jobs to avoid before setting your sights on a career path.

Use Your Strengths

Recovery is a journey. Along the way, you pick up invaluable skills. Ask yourself, how can you lend these skills to your new career?

Many people discover a passion for helping others while in recovery and find themselves working as professional addiction counselors. This career path lets you apply your experience and best skills learned in recovery.

Did you grow your skills in building, cooperation, problem-solving, and writing at your program? These are all highly applicable (and preferred) skills for the job market.

Did you grow as a communicator in recovery? Strong communication is a tremendous career asset. Not only can it lead to an addiction counseling career, but a career in teaching or physical therapy.

Here are several more careers to consider!

Art Therapist

For art therapists, art is more than just aesthetics. It’s a means to communicate. This is a wonderful career path that blends the creative and communication skills learned in recovery.

Art therapy is also recommended for people suffering from severe anxiety, self-esteem issues, trauma, and addiction. Since it’s offered at many recovery programs, art therapy, like addiction counseling, is a natural career fit for recovering addicts.

This career typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. However, a master’s is highly preferred. Art therapy masters programs are offered at several schools across the country, including the University of Chicago, Pratt Institute, University of Louisville, and Drexel University.

There are many more art therapy masters programs to pursue. But if you’re looking for something more flexible, you can earn an art therapy degree online through Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Colorado State University Online, and the International University of Professional Studies.

More Therapy Careers to Consider

Art therapy is one of many therapy jobs for recovering addicts. If you don’t want to become a therapist, but enjoy the field, you can always work as a therapy office manager or assistant. This is a good way to get your feet wet before pursuing a therapy career or degree.

You could also pursue a career in physical therapy, eating disorder therapy, trauma therapy, or social work therapy.

Wellness Careers

Another skill acquired through recovery is a passion for wellness. This passion could lead to these rewarding careers:

  • Yoga teacher and trainer
  • Personal trainer
  • Nutritionist or dietitian
  • Health store associate
  • Mindfulness coach
  • Aerobics instructor
  • Gym employee
  • Health food chef
  • Aromatherapy specialist

Let’s take a closer look at some of these exciting jobs for recovering addicts!

Yoga Teacher and Trainer

Remember, how important it is to choose a career that fits with your recovery goals? Nothing fits the bill more than yoga.

Yoga keeps you both physically and spiritually fit. These are essential tools for addiction recovery and this career path. If you already picked up yoga at your recovery program, build on your progress and channel these skills into a rewarding career.

To give yourself a leg up in the job market, make sure you have a certificate of completion by your side. Trained yoga teachers are expected to complete a set amount of hours before becoming instructors. Programs approved by the Yoga Alliance mandate at least 200 hours of training.

Personal Trainer

Like yoga, a career as a personal trainer aligns right with your recovery goals. You can maintain your physical fitness, help others, and apply communication skills learned in recovery.

While not mandatory, a professional certification in personal training is a great resume booster.

But not just any personal trainer certificate will do! Make sure it’s from one of these five certifying institutions:

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • American Council on Exercise
  • International Sports Sciences Association
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine

As a certified personal trainer, you can land a job at a major gym or even start your own business with clients.


As you know, nutrition plays an important role in both detox and recovery. If your recovery program inspired a passion for healthy eating, imagine what you could do for others.

Most entry-level positions in this field require at least a bachelor’s degree. To take your career higher, consider pursuing a nutrition master’s program at Boston University, New York Chiropractic College, University of Connecticut, or John Hopkins Center for Human Nutrition.

There are also flexible online degrees through Arizona State University Online, Purdue University Global, and American University.

A degree, or experience, in nutrition can also lead to opportunities in health-related retail, health food service, food labeling, food safety, and education.

Health Food Chef

Don’t let those culinary skills go to waste!

If you have an exceptional palate and the cooking skills to match, parlay it into a fulfilling career as a chef! Careers that require you to focus on patterned tasks, like cooking, are ideal jobs for recovering addicts.

This doesn’t mean you have to work in a high-stress restaurant. Pursue low-stress food service jobs or chef positions you’re familiar with at recovery centers. You could even build a rewarding career as a personal chef and cook for others right in their own home!

Consider open chef positions at vegan cafes, smoothie shops, raw food restaurants, and other health food establishments.

Outdoor Jobs for Recovering Addicts

Fresh air is essential for a strong immune system, healthy brain function, energy, and stress reduction. These are just a few of the reasons why outdoor careers are some of the best jobs for recovering addicts.

Luckily, there are several job to choose from. Here are some popular careers that take you outdoors:

  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Geologist
  • Botanical garden employee
  • Garden groundskeeper
  • Farming
  • Plant nursery employee
  • Nature guide
  • Dog walker

Let’s hop outside and take a deep dive into some of these awesome careers.


Like being a chef, a career as a professional gardener lets you focus on patterned tasks. This is an important trait to look for when deciding on jobs for recovering addicts.

Not everyone is a people-person or has the communication skills required for counseling, therapy, or management careers. Jobs with patterned routines are great for individuals who prefer to work independently.

Gardening is also creative and physical, two more traits to look for in a post-recovery career. A day in the life of a gardener may include raking, mowing, seed planting, pruning, watering, and more.

Related careers to consider include plant nursery associate, florist, and landscape designer.

Nature Guide

Coming out of recovery, it’s important to immerse yourself in nature and fresh air. There’s no better way to do this than to get involved with your city’s state parks!

You can also turn your love of nature into a fulfilling career as a nature guide. Look for open positions at public parks, local zoos, botanical gardens, and other outdoor attractions. Private companies may also have positions available for outdoor tour guides.

Dog Walker

Did a four-legged best friend help you through recovery? If you’re a dog person skilled in training, dog walking may be the perfect career for you!

Not only do you get to work with what you love, but you can also maintain a schedule that works with your recovery plan. A daytime schedule that works around your recovery is an important quality to look for in a career.

Not a dog person? No problem! Become a cat sitter or apply for a job at your local pet supply store or shelter.

Start Your New Chapter

A new career is your next stop on the recovery journey! Set yourself up for success with a career that aligns with your long-term goals for recovery.

Remember, your counselors and sponsors are here to help you make the right career decision for your new sober life. Use this article as a guide to help you find the right career and path that fits your needs.

You’re never alone in recovery. Check back often for more tools on navigating your recovery or talk to an expert who can help right away.


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