Once you complete an inpatient rehabilitation treatment program, you may feel a renewed sense of purpose.
You may also have aspects of life that require more attention.
Some people are able to return to jobs they had before rehab. Perhaps they met the guidelines of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and had assurance before entering a facility that their employment was protected.
Other individuals may need to find work after leaving 30- to 90-day substance abuse care center. It might be a requirement to have steady employment if they’re participating in a sober living program. For various reasons, they simply may not have access to their previous way of making a living.
Entering the job market again may feel like a daunting task. Use the techniques you learned in rehab regarding problem solving and new ways of thinking to be strategic about your approach.
Start with Reflection
Maybe you had an aspiring career, but addiction stalled your ambitions. Or perhaps you put in an honest day’s work to get a paycheck every two weeks. Now more than ever, it’s important to think about what kind of job aligns with your current sense of purpose and enables your continued recovery.
You’ve probably already identified a number of factors. Here are a few others that come to mind for many people:
- A regular schedule matters to me.
- I want to return to my career and get back what I lost.
- I need work that keeps me busy in the moment, but I don’t want to take it home with me.
- Who’s doing something I admire? How can I do that?
- Now might be the time for something new.
- I want a decent-paying job without a lot of stress.
- I want to learn a different skill, even if it means going back to school.
- It’s important to be around people contributing to society in meaningful ways.
Make a list of what your ideal working situation may be. Don’t let negative thought patterns prohibit you from writing out what matters to you and choosing the right course of action.
Know Your Rights
For a variety of reasons, you may not want to talk with many people about your addiction treatment. And you’re under no obligation to volunteer this information on a job application or during an interview, unless there’s a specific question about conviction regarding criminal activity. Then, your disclosure is required.
It’s also not legal for a prospective employer to ask an applicant if he or she was once addicted to substances or received treatment for addiction. According to numerous federal laws, employers don’t have the right to discriminate against someone who completed addiction treatment and is sober. However, these legal protections aren’t extended to someone currently taking illegal substances.
Keep in mind there are two definitive circumstances that may require you to be honest about your substance abuse history and treatment:
- Explaining a gap in employment. While you may be able to say you were dealing with a severe health issue and leave it at that, you also shouldn’t lie—even if there’s a chance you won’t get the job.
- A drug test. After treatment, taking this probably won’t be a problem for you. If makes you feel uncomfortable, you can refuse it. But an employer can also refuse to hire you, especially for positions in certain governmental sectors that require drug testing.
If the subject comes up during the application process or the interview, your direct response about past mistakes, successful treatment, and goals for the future—including a focus on sobriety—demonstrates what a conscientious employee you’ll be.
Seek Opportunities Within Your Support Circle
Perhaps you’ve already experienced the benefits of a sober network, and know it’s easier to maintain your healthy choices because of it. This collection of friends, colleagues, and resources provide a touchstone of support for your recovery—but have you tried talking with them about your employment needs?
You might already know from past experience that it’s often easier to work within your connections to accomplish certain goals. Within your sober network may be:
- A friend who understands what you’ve been through but also appreciates your skill set.
- Someone in a support group is also a small business owner looking for a new employee.
- A local job center that works with members of 12-Step programs to offer resources such as resume tutelage and review, conducting mock interviews, providing access to a “dress for success” closet, and other professional benefits.
It might also be time to broaden your support circle. For example, America in Recovery is non-profit organization based in Texas designed to connect people recovering from substance abuse or criminal activity to companies ready to hire.
The National H.I.R.E Network is a similar agency. It provides employment resources for individuals in recovery or recently released from prison.
And it shouldn’t be a surprise that people who once suffered from substance abuse and are now living sober after rehab can often be prime candidates for employment in treatment facilities. A simple search for “companies willing to hire addicts,” for example, often brings up a number of jobs that specify employment guidelines, including statements such as “If a recovering addict or alcoholic, you must by X months/years sober….”
If helping people achieve a life of sobriety appeals to you, you may find a new career path as a recovery specialist, medical support person, detox nurse, addiction treatment admissions specialist, substance abuse counselor, and other unique positions in the industry.
Willingway Can Help, Too
Through the extensive network of Willingway’s Continuing Care Community Groups in the South and Southeast, you’re bound to make valuable connections. In addition, we offer you a variety of alumni events that reinforce bonds with people who not only understand what you’ve accomplished, but also know what you’re capable of in the future and are willing to help you achieve your goals.