Life after treatment comes with challenges, but on the whole, many people in recovery find newfound sobriety exhilarating: the future unfolds in front of them, full of possibilities. Finding a job during addiction recovery is essential for some people, and it can actually play a role in successful long-term recovery.1
Gainful employment benefits people in recovery in several ways:
- It fills your time with productive pursuits.
- It reduces financial stress.
- It improves your self-esteem.
- It gives your life meaning and purpose.
- It gives you the opportunity to develop healthy relationships.
But finding a job during addiction recovery can be stressful, especially if you have a poor employment history due to your addiction or you have few qualifications to find the kind of job you want. These tips will help you find employment to improve your life and increase your chances of staying sober for the long-term.
Applying for a Job During Addiction Recovery
The more jobs you apply for, the better your chances of securing employment. But first, you’ll need to do a little legwork.
Decide What You Want to Do
The first step in finding employment after treatment is deciding what kind of job you want. Your experience, qualifications, education and skills will help you narrow down the choices, but finding something you’ll enjoy is important for maintaining a high quality of life. Write down your goals and evaluate your strengths and values. Think about the kinds of things you like to do, and make a list of the kinds of jobs that you might enjoy and for which you’re qualified.
Create a Resume
When you’re applying for a job during addiction recovery, it’s a good idea to have a pile of resumes ready to send out when you hear of something that interests you. Since your resume is your first contact with a potential employer, it should be professional, tidy and completely free of typos. A professional resume writer can help you develop a perfect resume, or you can enlist a friend or family member to help. Make plenty of quality copies and keep them in a safe place.
Know Where to Look
Knowing where to look for jobs is the best way to find the job you’re looking for. Online sites like Monster, CareerBuilder or Indeed can help you find local employment, or you can search through the employment listings on city and state job boards. Networking with friends, family members, former colleagues and others in your community may help you find a lead.
Consider Further Education
If you know what you’d like to do but don’t have the skills or education for it, consider going back to school or enrolling in vocational training. Your aftercare case manager can help you locate resources for continuing your education.
Be Honest About Your Recovery
One of the hardest things about finding a job during addiction recovery is deciding whether to tell your potential employer that you’re in recovery from an addiction. While you certainly don’t have to mention your addiction or recovery, it’s important to be honest if the topic comes up. If you have gaps in your employment history or a poor track record for employment, it may be best to be honest and simply explain that you struggled with an addiction, completed treatment and are now enjoying successful recovery. You don’t have to offer any additional details.
Be matter-of-fact and maintain a positive attitude. Know your rights regarding discrimination, which the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration lays out in a publication for those looking for a job during addiction recovery.2
Stay Open to New Possibilities
Although you may have a particular job in mind, it’s important to keep an open mind and consider jobs that may not be exactly what you’re looking for. These types of jobs can offer a foot in the door or provide opportunities for advancement later on.
Don’t Give Up Hope
It may take some time to find a job during addiction recovery. Be patient, check your job boards every day, and keep sending out resumes and applying for jobs. Eventually, your diligence will pay off. Once it does, engage fully with your job while you’re at work. Always look for opportunities to shine, and stay on top of advancement opportunities to help you avoid getting stuck in a rut and to keep you on the path to realizing your full potential.