Recovery from a substance use disorder is a major achievement, but sobriety brings its own set of challenges. Many people struggle with employment after completing a treatment program. It could be that your old job triggers you and puts you in danger of a relapse, or you have a gap in your employment history due to substance use. Although it may be a challenge, finding a job is one of the best things you can do to maintain your sobriety. It will help alleviate financial stress and give you a sense of purpose.
The Challenge of Finding Employment After Rehab
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma against addiction in our society. Some potential employers won’t even consider hiring someone who has used illegal drugs, and it can be challenging to navigate the job search process with this knowledge. Here are some tips to help you find a job after rehab.
Use Your Personal Network
Even if you’ve had to cut ties with negative influences in your life, you now have a positive network of individuals who assisted in your recovery. Talk to your counselors, therapists, doctors, sponsors, and other members of your support group. They will not only serve as a positive reference for potential employers, but may also be able to help you find employment opportunities. Many recovery centers have relationships with local businesses. You may be able to find a program that hires people in recovery.
If you still keep in touch with old family and friends, ask for their help as well. When in doubt, you can always build new connections. Try volunteering with local organizations or attending community events. This will help you build a new social network and replace some of the connections you may have lost due to your addiction.
Take Advantage of Assistance Programs
Many state and local governments offer their own programs to help people in recovery find employment. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has an Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) that offers assistance to people in recovery.
These programs cover many aspects of finding employment. You can find advice from employment experts, gain access to education programs, and work on improving your interviewing skills.
Use Online Resources
There are online resources that can help you in your job search. For example, America in Recovery maintains a job search website where you can create an account and apply for jobs. The employers who post openings on the site will already be aware of the fact that candidates are in recovery. This relieves some of the anxiety you may be feeling about whether or not to disclose your substance use disorder.
Prioritize Your Recovery
Even after you have achieved sobriety, you need to actively maintain your recovery. This could include attending an outpatient therapy group or joining a peer support organization like Alcoholics Anonymous. As you’re looking for jobs, consider how the work schedule will fit in with your recovery activities. Keep in mind that your first priority should be maintaining your recovery, so that you can thrive in your new job.
Consider Flexible Jobs
A full-time job is a big commitment and can add a lot of stress all at once. You’ll be eager to do well in your new role and prove to your employer that you can handle the job responsibilities. This stress could be a potential trigger. If you fear a full-time job would put you at risk for relapse, part-time work may be a better option. There are also remote positions that allow for more flexibility.
Know Your Rights
Although companies may be reluctant to hire you after a struggle with addiction, it’s important to know that you have rights under the law. Substance use disorder is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that employers cannot discriminate against you in their hiring practices.
Even during the interview process, your privacy is protected by law. Most job applications do ask about prior criminal convictions, and during the interview, employers are allowed to ask if you’ve ever used illegal drugs. However, there are certain things an employer cannot ask you. This includes anything that would require you to disclose your substance use disorder.
Accept that You Might Experience Setbacks
While you were in treatment, you had to step back from your professional life. You may find that you need to re-educate yourself in certain areas or build up your skillset again. Keep in mind that you may end up accepting a position that doesn’t pay as well, or isn’t at the same level as your previous job. Accept that this might happen. Focus instead on doing well in your new role.
Overcoming addiction is a huge milestone. Although life in recovery presents many challenges, you have already overcome the difficult challenge of your substance use disorder.
If you’re seeking employment in Pennsylvania following treatment and are searching for an outpatient group to help maintain your sobriety, consider Rehab After Work. We have flexible scheduling with some weekend availability, so that you can easily fit group or individual sessions into your schedule. Contact us at (610) 644-6464 to speak to a representative and schedule your first appointment.