Feb 17, 2016 | By Tim Powers

A Guide To Finding Employment In Recovery



If you are starting your recovery journey in earnest, learning how to embrace a sober lifestyle and building a new and healthy life that revolves around recovery becomes your number one goal. During the crucial early stages of recovery, it is necessary for you to establish their independence and gain a strong sense of confidence in themselves as you navigate the often treacherous waters of day-to-day living. One of the most important ways you can gain a sense of confidence and self-esteem in your sobriety is through finding and maintaining employment.

While being able to find and maintain meaningful employment does wonders for your wallet and your sense of independence and self-sufficiency, finding employment in recovery can be a frustrating process.

The Anxiety in Finding Employment While In Recovery

Trying to finding employment in recovery can be a long and frustrating process. While you may feel that you are ready to re-enter the workforce, there are roadblocks that you will encounter in your job search. You may be frustrated in the fact that you have to start over again and may have to find a simple job that pays less than what you were making before your recovery. You may also feel anxiety in trying to explain to prospective employers the gaps that are present in your resume. Whatever you may be feeling or experiencing, it is important to keep in mind that the first step in rebuilding your work history and career starts small.

Where to Start?

It is easy to be overwhelmed when undertaking the process of finding a job, but first things are first–you need to know where to start. Fortunately, many drug treatment programs provide employment coaching and assistance as part of their life and coping skills training. With the help of a professional, you will learn what resources you can use to find employment and you will master the basic skills that will increase your chances of becoming more attractive to prospective employers. These skills can be further refined as you leave formal drug treatment and enroll in some form of aftercare or sober living program.

Finding Employment in Recovery: The Interview

When you are looking for your first job in recovery, first impressions are everything–and the interview becomes all important. When you are interviewing with potential employers, you may be unsure whether or not you should mention you are a recovering addict. This can present unique challenges in the fact that disclosing such information may be highly commendable, but employers may automatically prejudiced against you because of your honesty. No matter what job you are applying for, the job market is tough and highly competitive and admitting that you a recovering addict may make the job search more difficult. Additionally, if you omit the fact that you are an addict and are offered a job, your employer may hold that information against you if it were to be found out.

Telling prospective employers about your past history with drug use and addiction is highly personal and it is up to you to disclose that information. Whether or not you choose to disclose that information, you need to know that most recovering addicts are protected under federal civil rights laws against any form of discrimination including employment discrimination. Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Workforce Investment Act protect the right of individuals with disabilities, which can include those with past substance abuse issues. However, these laws do not protect those who are currently abusing drugs and alcohol.

What Jobs are Ideal for Those in Recovery?

For many people that are newly recovered, finding the “right” job is a difficult process. Given the fact that the current job market is competitive and re-entering your profession before drug treatment may not be an option due to your past addictive behavior, finding a simple and basic job is a great way get back in the workforce. While it may seem demeaning or “beneath you”, finding employment in areas where you wouldn’t have considered is important in the fact that you will learn the important lessons of humility and responsibility while putting into practice the life and coping skills that were learned during drug treatment.

The “ideal” job can be most anything. Whether it is bussing tables at a local restaurant, stocking shelves at Walmart, working in a factory or working in a fast food restaurant, working a job that is simple puts the focus on how you are living your life. Working these types of jobs while in recovery also has the benefit of allowing you the time to clearly think about your next steps until you accumulate more clean time. The main thing to remember is these types of jobs aren’t meant to be permanent careers; they are meant for those new in recovery to become financially independent, responsible and to get re-acclimated to a normal daily routine.

Now You Have a Job: How Do You Keep That Job?

When you find employment, you have an increased awareness that keeping your job is top priority. The first and most important priority is working your recovery program. If you are employed where friends who still actively use drugs work, you need to avoid them at all costs. If you are able to find employment, it is important to avoid taverns or restaurants that serve alcohol. If it is possible, you should also avoid looking for employment where it is located near those places that you used to use drugs and alcohol.

In order to keep your new job, following common sense rules is often the best way to stay employed. For example, you want to maintain a good attendance record and you should arrive on time each day or shift. Staying late to make up for absences is not seen as acceptable due to the fact that your tardiness can cause delays in other people getting their jobs completed on time. If available, you should offer to work overtime so you can show your employer that you are willing to work hard. Additionally, you should show enthusiasm and take pride in your job.

There are things that you want to avoid that may jeopardize your current employment. In addition to tardiness, you also want to avoid working long shifts during the day or taking on too many hours. While you may be able to make more money, working long hours or taking too many overtime hours can take away from your recovery and those activities that support recovery. The most important aspect to staying in recovery is keeping balance, and that includes employment. Additionally, you want to avoid being involved with a co-worker in a romantic relationship.

What if I Have Problems Finding Work?

If you experience difficulties in finding work in recovery, there are national organizations that help those in recovery find work. For example, The U.S. Department of Labor offers a One Stop Career Center where those who are in recovery can contact them with available career center in their area. Additionally, there is a non-profit organization called America in Recovery that will link employers that are looking for workers and wiling to hire those in recovery to prospective employees. You can also talk to the staff at your local treatment center or peer support group to see if any local work programs are available in your area.

If you can’t find work, you can also look into performing volunteer work in order to gain valuable job experience and skills. You can also sign up for work with a temp agency or possibly work for a company on an internship basis if they allow interns. Additionally, you can receive extra education and job training by enrolling in a local job training program.

2 responses to “A Guide To Finding Employment In Recovery

  • Kristi Tullis

    8 years ago

    I am graduating soon with my Masters in Human it is in Creative Writing. I have my Bachelors of Arts in English. However, I have found my passion in substance abuse/recovery and helping eliminate the stigmas and shaming. I live in ohio, zip code 43986, and I want to find work in this area. Please help me. I am very passionate about those suffering.

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