How to Pass a Drug Test: Sobering Up for a Job

How to Pass a Drug Test: Sobering Up for a Job

By In Addiction Recovery, First Steps, Tools for Recovery
Posted November 8, 2017

To land just about any job, you’ll have to pass a drug test. This makes securing employment difficult for those who struggle with substance abuse.

Of course, there may be ways to “trick” a drug test, or pass it while still secretly using. But you want to do more than get the job; you also want to keep the job. And in order to keep the job, you’ll need to genuinely sober up.

If you want to be a responsible and reliable employee, sobriety is a must. Below are tips for getting clean and staying clean so you can land your dream job.

Commit to Sobriety

In order to get clean, you must first be truly committed to sobriety. You have to find something that motivates you to seek recovery.

A job, for example, can be a great motivator. You may also be motivated by your relationships, your health, your finances, or even your self-respect. It may help to list everything you have lost as a result of your addiction. Look over the list, and then jot down all of your reasons to get sober. What will you gain?

You don’t have to hit rock bottom to get clean. If you can find the motivation to commit to sobriety, you can begin your recovery journey now.

Research Your Options

Once you’ve decided to commit to sobriety, you need to research your recovery options. When you stop using drugs and alcohol, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, which you will want to manage in a safe and healthy way.

Checking into a rehab center is one excellent option. Rehab provides a safe, supportive, and structured environment to do the psychological work needed to recover from addiction.

There are both inpatient and outpatient rehabs. Inpatient or residential rehab is beneficial if you want to get away from temptation and triggers in your home environment.

Outpatient rehab typically requires several hours of recovery programming several days a week. It’s a good option for people who have a strong support system and a stable environment at home. You can also seek employment or continue working while completing an outpatient rehab program.

Depending on what substance you use and how long you’ve been using, you may have to first complete a supervised detoxification program, more commonly referred to as “detox.”

If you choose not to go the rehab route, a combination of drug counseling and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings may also be effective. Counseling can help you address the underlying issues causing your addiction, and attending meetings will give you important tools to get and stay sober. Plus, AA and NA meetings give you a community of people who understand and empathize with your struggles.

Build a Support System

As you plan to head into treatment, you’ll need to have a strong support system in place.

Your support system can consist of family, close friends, support groups, or others in recovery, like those you meet at NA or AA meetings. Recovery meetings are safe spaces for you to open up with complete honesty about your addiction and struggles to get clean.

These programs also give you the opportunity to find a sponsor, someone who has been in recovery for a long time and will help guide you through your own recovery journey. Your sponsor will understand your difficulties finding work and may have helpful advice, tips for staying motivated, or useful experiences to share.

If you can, bring supportive family members to an open recovery meeting. They’ll have the opportunity to better understand addiction and the recovery process.

Even if you don’t have family behind you, you can build a strong network of empathetic and encouraging friends through support groups or meetings. Having people you can confide in and trust to motivate you will be key to your recovery.

Support group for sobriety and addiction recovery

Know Your Triggers

You may have heard that relapse is extremely common. This is true, but you shouldn’t let statistics discourage you. You’re an individual in charge of your own recovery, and you can start by identifying your triggers.

A trigger initiates your desire or craving for the substance you are trying to avoid. Common triggers include:

  • Exposure to drugs or alcohol
  • Social pressure
  • Negative emotions like stress, loneliness, guilt, anger, etc.
  • Seeing an object of addiction, like watching a beer commercial
  • People, places, or things that remind you of using

If you know what triggers you, you can also take steps to avoid these triggers, and you can have a plan in case you do encounter them. For instance, if you know that stress triggers you, be conscious of your stress levels. If you find stress building, you can exercise, meditate, or take a walk to relax.

You may want to use the HALT strategy. HALT stands for Hunger (physical or emotional), Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness. Throughout the day, do HALT checks and address any of these emotions before they get out of hand.

Additionally, teach yourself to say “no.” If you truly want to stay sober and pass a drug test, you’ll have to say goodbye to people who negatively influenced you in the past. You’ll have to turn down invitations to parties or events that you know might tempt you to use. Remember that one fun night isn’t work risking your sobriety and the benefits that accompany it—including stable employment.

Practice Self-Care

Another way to stay clean is to take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, hydrate, eat nutritious meals, and exercise regularly. The better you feel, the less likely you are to relapse.

You can also care for yourself emotionally by finding soothing and enjoyable hobbies like gardening, writing, reading, hiking, painting, etc. Spend time with only positive people who are supportive of your recovery. If you’re religious, get involved in a church. Try yoga or meditation. Find music that makes you feel happy or understood. Keep a gratitude journal and list everything you’re thankful for each day in recovery.

Taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically will keep you focused on sobriety and how great it feels to be clean.

a bowl of fruit.

Work Your Plan

Addicts are never really “done” with treatment. Slips or relapses can happen, and it’s important to guard against them in order to protect your sobriety.

Once you’ve completed a rehab or treatment program, make sure that you have a plan for maintaining your sobriety. This may mean attending AA or NA meetings weekly (or more frequently), calling your sponsor regularly, continuing counseling or therapy, etc.

You can read recovery literature, download recovery apps on your phone, and more. Whatever you do to maintain your sobriety, make sure that you stick to it.

Take It One Day at a Time

Don’t pressure yourself with thoughts about staying sober forever. Instead, wake up each day resolving to not use drugs or alcohol that day, no matter what.

Gradually, it’ll become easier and easier to resist temptation and stay on a positive and healthy path.

Reward Progress

Celebrate recovery milestones by treating yourself to dinner, a movie, dessert, or pedicures with a friend.

Be kind to yourself and feel proud of the strides you’ve made toward a better, healthier life. Don’t pressure yourself too much: Sobriety might not result in a job right away. But each day you avoid drugs or alcohol keeps you on the path to a more successful future, and that’s worth celebrating.


Employment is crucial for financial stability, self-esteem, and a sense of purpose. The difficulty of finding and keeping work can be terrifying for those who struggle with substance abuse.

But getting clean and staying clean is possible if you’re truly motivated to recover. Start by finding your purpose (employment is a good motivator), then looking into your recovery options. Bolster yourself with a support system and knowledge of your triggers. Take good care of yourself, keep working your plan, and take recovery one day at a time. Celebrate your progress by rewarding milestones, even the small ones.

Don’t be discouraged or defeated. You can sober up, pass the drug test, get the job you’ve been wanting, and then keep it by staying sober. Take a step in the right direction now by listing all of your reasons to get clean.

Not only will you pass a drug test and find employment, but you’ll be improving your life in every other area as well.

If you need help starting your road to recovery please call The Shores Treatment and Recovery at 1-888-249-2590.

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