Some recovering addicts may be worried about their job prospects after rehab, but with a bit of networking, an open mind, and a willingness to lean into your work, you will find that your past as an addict might not affect your chances at a career nearly as much as you might think they would. If you’ve ever held a job down and had success in any given field, the major challenge for you is not going to be maintaining employment but overcoming your own anxieties and getting that proverbial foot in the door on your way to your first proper post-rehab job.
Even if you haven’t been employed before getting addicted, your chances at finding a job are not as slim as you might think. We will go over a series of simple tips as to how to land that first job after recovery, as well as go over why employment is so critical in both short-term and long-term recovery, and how it helps you cement your sobriety and continue to work on a fulfilling recovery.
How Soon Should You Start?
If you have any choice about when to get back into the job market, the right answer would be to start as soon as you feel ready. Some people need a little extra time in rehab before they feel ready to start working again, but don’t put off your return for too long.
Even in sober living homes, which can be seen as a transition between rehab and normal day-to-day life, one of the many rules most homes adopt is the need to either seek employment or return to school. Rather than considering employment as something to pursue after recovery, see it as one of several steps necessary to succeed in recovery.
Tips for Finding Work
Finding work might not be easy, so it’s best to start soon. Before you even decide to commit to any real offers or ideas, start first by doing the initial legwork, such as considering volunteering opportunities, networking inside and outside of your rehab circles and recovery groups, and spending more time making new friends and meeting new people. The first step is always going to be to stretch out and see what comes your way.
Being around people more often is a good first step. Not everyone is comfortable with being openly sociable, and it can be hard to adjust to that sort of behavior. Take it one step at a time and consider things you might be comfortable with, such as going to new sober meetings, talking to someone at the gym or during a fitness class, or finding people in local sober hangout spots.
Take All Opportunities
Don’t set yourself up with certain expectations. You may have to start entry-level or opt for a job you hadn’t considered at first. As long as it isn’t something you feel you wouldn’t be able to do mentally or physically, be open to new experiences and try things out. Many positions have training periods that give you a chance to back out of a job if you feel it isn’t a good fit for you, and you may be surprised to find how much you might like a position if you give it an honest try.
Keep Mum About Recovery
It’s not wise to openly advertise that you’re in recovery, and unless your past as an addict includes any criminal history, you are not strictly obligated to inform an employer that you used to have a drug habit. If the interview questions do eventually tread on that ground, perhaps due to a conspicuous gap in your resume, be sure to clarify that your experiences in recovery qualify as a positive rather than a liability, and that the challenges of early sobriety and the progress you’ve made since day one are a testament to your ability to face a challenge and proceed onwards.
Consider Volunteer Work
One way to impress potential employers is to spend some of your free time doing volunteer work. Not only does this show a considerable amount of initiative, but it may give further insight into your potential managerial or administrative abilities, as well as your willingness to lean into hard work and do what must be done to see a task through. Volunteer work also shows employees that you step forward and take action for things you believe in, and that you back up your words with hours invested in the things you love.
Whether it’s working at a soup kitchen, being a helping hand at a local shelter, or otherwise engaging with the community, volunteer work can be a great boon for any prospective job hunter, and it’s important to take every advantage you can get.
Maintaining Employment After Rehab
A job you like can be a great source of fulfillment and purpose in sobriety, while a job you hate can be a massive source of stress and more of a burden than anything else. While getting jobs is important, be sure to set your eyes on a line of work you enjoy. Otherwise, you’re not going to reap any of the non-financial benefits of employment while working on your own recovery.
The first key to maintaining employment after rehab is avoiding boredom. Whether it’s through your work or through other aspects in your life, constantly challenging yourself is important. Stagnation is what often paves the way to struggles with relapse, in cases where stress does not do so first.
The second key is to know what your employers want. If employers do find out about your recovery, they may be likely to worry about your reliability as an employee due to your past as an addict. It’s important to embrace the struggles of recovery and put them forward as an example of the hardships you’re ready to go through in order to change your life for the better. Remember that your bravery in facing these flaws head-on and doing the most to address them can be an immense plus, if you frame it as such.
It’s not going to be easy to find work, let alone work you truly enjoy, but don’t give up on yourself. The longer you look, the more likely you are to find what you need.