Although addiction can end careers, studies show that recovery puts people ahead of the game professionally. Statistics show that people who complete treatment are more likely to get hired and are also paid higher salaries.
Workplace Reentry: Key Preparation
It is essential to gain the right mindset before you start a job search. That is because emotions such as fear, anxiety, and insecurity—all normal feelings to experience during a job hunt—are toxic for individuals in recovery. The key to staying sober and weathering the stress with serenity is to remember several key facts, including the following:
- Keep perspective. Unemployment can trigger panic if you think it will last forever. It won’t as long as you stay sober.
- Understand your power. Instead of focusing on what you have no control over, such as when and where you find employment, center your thoughts on actions you can take to improve your prospects.
- Remember that change is a process, not an event. Just like recovery, finding work and building a career is the result of doing the next right thing over and over again.
Although you do not need to take a poll of your friends to determine your future, seeking the advice of a few trusted individuals who know you best and understand your recovery may help you to see your blind spots, consider new options, and pursue a wise path. Questions to consider together include the following:
- Am I ready? Timing your reentry well is a team effort. Asking your support team for advice can safeguard you against dragging your feet or jumping in too soon.
- How much stress can I handle? Since stress can trigger an addiction, a low-key position that doesn’t demand much mental focus can be a smart choice in early recovery.
- What schedule best suits my recovery? If your sobriety hinges on attending support group meetings, for instance, find a job with flexible hours.
- Should I take a step down? Reentering a high-pressure environment can be a mistake in early sobriety if it threatens your recovery.
Many treatment centers offer individualized career counseling to help you set goals and lay out a plan of action for your career.
Obtaining and holding post-treatment employment is one of the best predictors of long-term successful treatment outcomes for addicted individuals. Benefits include the following:
- Positive daily structure
- Resources to pay bills and work toward financial freedom
Many individuals find that revamping their resume raises the issue of work history gaps. You may not need to explain yourself if the unemployment was relatively brief. Plenty of people take time off between jobs to consider new career paths, especially during an economic slump.
However, if you have been absent from the workforce for a considerable chunk of time, be prepared to answer questions. Points to keep in mind include the following:
- In most interviews, framing your time off as a sabbatical will avoid raising suspicions if you are specific about how you spent your time.
- Consider highlighting positive results of your recovery time, such as rebuilding your family and healing your health.
- Find ways to spin your recovery activities in a way that seems relevant to your employment path.
Most people don’t land jobs right away. “Living life on life’s terms,” which is a coping skill taught in many treatment facilities, means accepting the reality that finding work takes time.