Road to Recovery: Begin Your Journey

Congratulations! You are on your road to recovery and are learning how to embrace a sober lifestyle. The early stages of recovery are crucial in making sure you lay the necessary foundation for staying sober. It is so important for you to establish your independence early and gain a strong sense of confidence in yourself as you navigate the often treacherous waters of day-to-day living. One of the best ways you can ensure you will stay on the road to recovery, gain confidence and build self-esteem is through finding and maintaining employment.

How Do I Begin My Road to Recovery?

A job search of any type can be overwhelming but it becomes even more daunting if you are recovering from addiction. Even the basic premise of where to begin looking may become a challenge. Fortunately, many drug treatment programs provide employment coaching and assistance as part of their life and coping skills training. With the help of a professional, you will learn what resources you can use to find employment and you will master the basic skills that will increase your chances of becoming more attractive to prospective employers.

How Much Information Should I Reveal?

Remember that first impressions are incredibly important so you need to take your time to mentally prepare for your interview. A question that arises is whether or not to tell your potential employer that you are a recovering from addiction. This can become challenging because while disclosing such information may be highly commendable, it may also cause concern for future employers. No matter what job you are applying for, the job market is tough and highly competitive and, unfortunately, there is still a stigma around addiction. Additionally, if you don’t say anything and are offered a job, your employer may hold that information against you if it were to be found out.

In the long run, on your road to recovery, what you choose to tell your prospective employers about your past history with drug use and addiction is highly personal and it is up to you to disclose that information. Regardless, you need to know that most people in recovery are protected against any form of discrimination under federal civil rights. This includes employment discrimination. Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Workforce Investment Act protect the right of individuals with past substance abuse issues. However, these laws do not protect those who are currently abusing drugs and alcohol.

Types Of Jobs Suitable For Those On Their Road To Recovery

Unless your career kept you around drugs or alcohol all the time, it might be a good idea to return to your former career, even if it’s only a temporary step.  If returning to your former career is not an option, finding a simple and basic job is a great way to get back in the workforce. Finding employment in areas you wouldn’t have considered previous to your addiction is important in that you will learn lessons of responsibility while putting into practice the life and coping skills that were learned during treatment.

The fact is that good careers come in all shapes and sizes. Those in recovery work as salespeople, accountants, marketers, instructors, producers, and every other profession out there.

A great example of a success story is the story of Michael Dadashi, the CEO of MHD Enterprises. Dadashi got sober in 2009 and has been hiring people in recovery for his multimillion dollar e-waste recycling business since his company took off. In fact, 70 percent of the staff at his company consists of employees in recovery.

Now That I Have A Job, How Do I Keep It?

Even after you are employed, the most important priority is maintaining your work in your recovery program. If you are employed with coworkers who still actively use drugs or abuse alcohol, you need to utilize the skills you learned in treatment to overcome “triggers.”

Following the rules of the workplace is often the best way to stay employed. For example, try your best to always arrive on time (or early) and help out wherever you are needed, even if it is not technically your area of responsibility. Remaining upbeat and positive is respected in any area of work and always refrain from office gossip.  Additionally, you should show enthusiasm and take pride in your job.

On the flip side there may be a few things you want to avoid in your new job. It is probably not the best idea to work long shifts during the day or take on too many hours. While you may be able to make more money, working long hours or taking too many overtime hours can take away from your recovery and those activities that support recovery. The most important aspect to staying in recovery is keeping balance, and that includes employment.

There are many people in recovery out in the workforce. Some will become your co-workers, some will become your bosses and some may even become your employees. While you may be concerned about people’s reactions to your past, keep in mind that so many people recover and go on to lead productive and healthy lives. If they have done it, so can you!

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