Addiction recovery

Nurses reading booklet

People with lived experience of addiction recovery are able to apply their practical learning and knowledge to your organisation.

Your organisation can benefit from specific skills of people who have been through addiction recovery, such as heightened resilience and empathy. 


  • Make contact with your local addiction treatment centres to inform people with substance misuse issues what your organisation can offer.
  • Interact with recovering users through local initiatives and focus on skills and experience rather than just recovery, to help break down any discrimination.
  • Host recruitment days where people can visit different parts of the organisation to see the varied roles the NHS can offer and engage with the roles they can add value to.
  • Where possible advertise vacancies, including volunteering opportunities, in your local GP surgeries and pharmacies.
  • Ban the box is an initiative to remove information about criminal records on application forms. Consider removing the box this in your application forms to encourage people who may have a criminal conviction to still apply for the role. 
  • Offer work trials where possible. This will ensure the organisation is the right fit for the employee as well as you as an organisation.


  • Provide information and support that you may have for people with previous substance misuse at your organisation. This could be in the form of mentoring or peer support.
  • People with previous substance misuse may need flexibility around start and finish times to attend appointments or take medication. Explain that you are a flexible employer in the job advert and interview. 
  • Where possible, make the initial interview more informal and include space for the interviewee to ask questions about the role and the organisation.
  • Provide as much information as you can before the candidate starts at the organisation, such as where to go, who to ask for, and what is available onsite.
  • Provide space for candidates to talk through any previous convictions they may have and what impact it could have on working for the organisation. This gives the organisation the chance to consider whether the conviction is relevant to the post advertised. You can check the eligibility of the role against our DBS check eligibility.
  • Take a look at See Potential's step-by-step-guide to open recruitment. Reviewing your recruitment practices can ensure they’re open and fair for all candidates, including those who have a history of addiction recovery. 


Not all people with a history of substance misuse will need all the support or interventions listed below, but these are some suggestions that could help present your organisation as an employer of choice:

  • Be respectful of the person’s desire for their situation to be kept confidential or shared across a team. Be flexible that their opinion on this could change.
  • Explain that you appreciate their situation, and explain the support you can offer and the actions you can take together to allow them to do their job.
  • Provide a quiet space available for your employee. This could be for medication to be taken or for confidential phone calls to be made.  
  • Provide a mentor or buddy who can support the candidate in work.

Further reading

An Independent Review into the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction, and obesity, December 2016:
This document is an evidence-based analysis of the factors that stand in the way of employment for people recovering addictions. It recommends practical interventions, including changes in services, practices, behaviour and attitudes.

Find out more about other community groups you may want to engage with and recruit into your organisation. 

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