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Your Ultimate Guide to Getting a Job While Recovering from Addiction

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Addiction recovery takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and one of the hardest aspects of recovery life can be re-integrating into society. After having spent months in a rehabilitation center, it’s time to get back into the swing of things – to hold a stead position, to support a family, and to accomplish whatever goals you may have. There is a lot of hesitancy for those in recovery when it comes to finding employment, however, and it’s because of the stigma that comes with addiction recovery.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine states that national costs exceed $400 billion annually on lost productivity, absenteeism, disability and worker’s compensation related to addiction, and for many employers, these are major concerns when it comes to hiring someone who’s in recovery – they don’t want any of these issues to arise for them. Of course, you may know well in your heart that you’re going to reach your recovery goals – but how can you assure your potential employer of this? Getting a job may take some sincere effort and finding the right opportunity may take some time, but despite the stigma, employers are becoming more supportive of helping those in recovery get a second chance at rebuilding their lives.

“Recovery Friendly”: A New Approach Taking Over

Last year, the Washington Post highlighted the story of Kenny Sawyer, a man who’d not only struggled with addiction but who also had a misdemeanor on his record – and despite the pushback from positions who saw red flags, he found a company that welcomed him with open arms – a company that considered itself “recovery friendly”. The Washington Post described this approach by stating that more and more workplaces are starting to overlook employment gaps and minor drug-related police concerns as long as the person they’re working with is open and honest – with the ultimate goal of reducing stigma. It was noted that companies who are “recovery friendly” tend to treat addiction recovery as a medical issue – a situation where employers should be supportive of their employee.

With more companies starting to embrace the histories of those in recovery, it opens up chances to get back into employment while also having the support of those in the workplace.

Volunteering: A Path Towards Employment

For those who need or would like to show potential employers what they’re capable of, volunteering could be an excellent place to start – and it can even be done while in rehabilitation. Deb Dettor, director of a recovery support service, told the Washington Post, “Some people use volunteer service as a starting place. You have a structured way of dealing with other people where you’re expected to show up.”

Not only can you benefit from adding some work experience to your resume through volunteering, previous studies have shown that you can acquire many other benefits, such as:

  •    Getting to know others and building connections
  •    Learning new skills and strengthening current ones
  •    Obtaining a letter of recommendation
  •    Improving your sense of community and purpose in life
  •    Feeling great after helping others
  •    Reducing anxiety and depression
  •    And so much more

Once it’s time to start applying for positions and completing interviews, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of success.

Tips for Employment

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior notes that in addition to preparing a resume and conducting some research on your field and the position you’re applying for, you should start preparing yourself for questions you can expect in the interview. Know your rights – there are several Federal Civil Rights Laws that you’re protected under, such as:

  •    Americans with Disabilities Act
  •    Rehabilitation Act
  •    Fair Housing Act
  •    Workforce Investment Act

It is suggested that you do not lie about anything regarding your past/substance abuse history, but you certainly do not want to offer up information unless asked. It’s always best to acknowledge any mistakes you’ve made, but to place emphasis on your recovery and the hopes you have for the future. By the end of an interview, you want to make sure your potential employer knows how committed you are to living a healthier, balanced life.

Within the workforce, you’re going to want to stay strong and grounded in knowing that you’re doing the best you can in your life as it is. Peter Grinspoon, MD, told Harvard Medical School in 2018, that despite stigma that goes on in the workplace, you can combat this by holding your head high – and taking everything one step at a time. He recalled the phrases “just keep your head up” and “put one foot in front of the other” and stated, “When I first heard these phrases, I thought they were…phrases without content, provided to motivate us through dark times. Now, I think they hold a great deal of wisdom.”

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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