Today, roughly 23.5 million people in the United States struggle with a substance abuse disorder, otherwise known as addiction. For those who choose to receive treatment and get sober, there are still several obstacles ahead that make the journey challenging. Finding a job in recovery is one of them. Re-entering the workforce after spending the majority of your time in treatment can be a jarring transition, even if you feel that you’re ready to get to work. Still, there are ways to prepare for a job in recovery, whether it’s returning to an old one or finding a new one.
When Returning to Your Old Job in Recovery
If you are lucky enough to have maintained your employment before entering treatment, you can easily return to your job once you leave rehab. This is the best possible option, especially since taking on too much stress during the first year of recovery is ill-advised— and there’s nothing more stressful than job-hunting.
Although it is true that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects you from discrimination when looking for a job, many people in addiction recovery have reported that finding work after rehab is exceptionally difficult. So, returning to your old position (if at all possible) means that you won’t have to explain anything surrounding your recovery to potential employers, like gaps in your employment history.
When Finding a New Job in Recovery
Unfortunately, not everyone has the option to return to their previous job during addiction recovery. It all depends on the circumstances and whether or not they’ll fit your recovery plan. For example, if something about your previous job was a driving factor behind your addiction— whether it was a peer pressuring co-worker or easy access to your drug of choice— then you should absolutely not return to it. So, if you do need to find work after rehab, it’s crucial that you consider all your options carefully without limiting yourself.
Start With What You Know
When looking for a job in recovery, you always have the option to turn to your support group and counselors for help. In fact, most treatment programs offer services that focus on helping patients find employment. These might include general coaching, resume building, or interview exercises. In any case, you can use whatever resources your treatment program has to offer to make the job-hunting process easier. Along the way, you’ll master essential skills that will attract potential employers.
Building a resume is one of the most critical aspects of job-hunting for anyone. It’s a chronological account of your work history with various employers and companies. However, if you already had a work history before entering rehab, you might be worried about how to explain the notable gap in your resume: your time in treatment.
The simplest way to account for this time is to list the date-span of your treatment as if it was another job on your resume. Then, mark it as “medical absence” or something similar. Remember, addiction is a disease, so the time you spend in recovery is time spent healing. This qualifies as medical leave, and many people in medical recovery do this for their resumes when reentering the workforce.
Taking small steps is always going to be part of your addiction recovery. This includes post-treatment job-hunting. Most people in recovery tend to look for part-time work before moving on to building a full-time career. This is especially true for young adults who have not had any work experience before receiving addiction treatment.
One of the benefits of a part-time job in recovery is that you’ll have more flexible hours. Having part-time hours means that you’ll be able to continue your treatment and meetings. The best entry-level positions that don’t require any past experience might include:
- Paid internships
- Restaurant work
- Trades and construction
- Temporary jobs (“temp” work)
Unfortunately, this may mean that you’ll need to take a lower-paying or even minimum wage job before moving on to better ones. Remember, though, that many of the positions that help people enter the workforce are not designed to become long-lasting careers. Instead, they’re meant to help you gain financial stability and build a routine during a transitional part of your life. In this case, it’s addiction recovery. This step is only temporary until you find something better suited to your skill set and passions.
Whether or not you have any work experience before receiving treatment, there is one industry that could always use more workers and volunteers: the addiction recovery industry. In fact, many people in addiction recovery end up building careers in the very business that saved them.
Working at an addiction treatment facility can be a very fulfilling experience for people who are in recovery themselves. After all, former addicts might be the only people who truly understand what others in recovery are going through. Working in the addiction recovery industry as a former addict will allow you to have a job that lets you share hope, wisdom, and encouragement with other newly sober people.
If you’re qualified and meet the job requirements, you could potentially become:
- a sponsor
- a counselor
- a speaker at meetings
- an admissions call operator
- an event or meeting coordinator
Of course, these are just a few of many jobs that may be well-suited for individuals in addiction recovery.
Consider Your Options Carefully
Whether or not you’re new to the workforce, there are a few critical aspects of any potential job that you should carefully consider before making your commitment. As a person in recovery, it’s important to find a job that not only offers a sense of fulfillment but also does so without exposing you to relapse triggers. This is why so many people in recovery join the addiction treatment industry. Whatever your plans are, you should look for job openings that have:
- A fair workload
- Consistent hours
- Clear expectations
- A standard routine
- Sound working conditions
- Room for professional growth
If you can find the right balance between your work, your personal life, and your recovery, you’re on the right track. Still, the most important thing to make sure of is that the career you build for yourself after treatment will make you happy.
Employment Prep and Resume Building at TTC Care
Gaining employment is one of the most critical parts of addiction recovery. Finding work in recovery provides a sense of accomplishment, stability, and independence. At The Treatment Center Residential Care facility in Lake Worth, Florida, our team of addiction care professionals can help you with rebuilding all aspects of your new, sober life. If you are interested in getting a jump start on your job-hunting, come join us on Friday, March 23rd at The Treatment Center’s Employment Readiness Workshop. For more information, please call us at 844-310-9549.