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Policy Considerations & Example Statements

Each organization has unique needs the following examples are not a requirement of RFW. 

Though certain protections are provided to employees in recovery, and in some instances to those who
currently have a substance use disorder, these protections are often not enough to create a recovery-friendly workplace. While recovery friendly workplace initiatives are new and without a history of best practices development, the following considerations are examples:

  • Adapting employer equal opportunity employment statements to include recovery status and identity.

  • While such a statement may not be legally enforceable, an employer statement that includes such an addition can help current and future employees to feel welcome and accepted. See the attached examples for additional information.

  • Craft and implement a ‘wellness time off’ policy that is specific and different from personal time off and sick time. This policy should state that taking care of an employee’s mental health or protecting their recovery is a worthwhile endeavor, and they may accrue time to take such time off as applicable.

  • Revise company event policies and standard operating procedures to not feature or host events and activities with alcohol. While this may not be possible for all events, good practice would be to hold one event that is substance free for every event that is held with substances.

  • Replace a ‘zero tolerance’ drug use and screening policy with performance-based policy as nature of work, laws, safety regulations, and restrictions from funders allow.

  • Create provisions that would allow applicants with nonviolent criminal histories to interview and onboard as nature of work, laws, safety regulations, and restrictions from funders allow.

  • Add overdose response training to companywide training schedule and make naloxone available and visible in work areas.

  • Implement a partnership with a local recovery community organization or peer recovery support service provider that can make 1-on-1 peer recovery coaching available to employees in recovery and employees seeking to initiate recovery.

  • Adopt a ‘person-first language’ policy that asks employees to use non-stigmatizing language when discussing substance use or recovery. While these guidelines are preliminary, they are good first steps to changing your organizational culture.

  • Further recommendations from a recovery friendly workplace task force, or from employees in recovery,  should be gathered and implemented whenever possible and reviewed with legal counsel.


Millions of individuals in the United States have resolved a substance use disorder (SUD) and are living
in long-term recovery. As a critical component of the workforce, these Americans often face high levels of stigmatizing and discrimination in professional and public settings. Employers of all sizes and types have an opportunity to create inclusive workplaces by adopting certain recovery-informed policies and statements showing a commitment to their employees in recovery. By creating a recovery-informed workplace, organizations send a positive message to their employees, their partners, and the communities they serve, that they understand the importance of inclusivity, acceptance, and support.
The following examples provide sample language that organizations can include within their standard
operating procedures to help adopt a recovery-informed culture.

*Thanks to New Hampshire Recovery Friendly Workplace for their technical support

Non-Discrimination / Equal Employment Opportunity Policy:

RFW is committed to diversity and to equal opportunity employment. RFW does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, height, weight, physical or mental ability (including HIV status), veteran status, military obligations, marital status, and mental health or substance use disorder
recovery status. This policy applies to hiring, internal promotions, training, opportunities for advancement, and terminations and applies to all RFW employees, volunteers, members, clients, and contractors.

Recovery-Informed Workplace Statement:

RFW is committed to a welcoming workplace for all our employees. We believe that the health and wellness of our team members is of the utmost importance and are dedicated to building a culture that honors and celebrates personal recovery. As a recovery-informed workplace, our team members are free to be successful without fear of stigma or discrimination. 

Importance of Behavioral Health Statement:

RFW believes behavioral health is as important as physical health. We encourage all employees to engage in necessary self-care, self-compassion, and medical care. We are committed to
supporting employees and their families through any health concern, including mental health and substance use. 

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