One of the most critical steps after leaving recovery is finding a job that will compliment your physical and emotional needs.
In other words, you want to find a job that can provide a positive environment free of emotional or physical triggers.
In the beginning, being back in the job market will most likely feel overwhelming. You’ll have to face your own fears or insecurities to learn how to best present yourself to a potential employer. Focus on the fact that finding a job helps your recovery by promoting financial stability and boosting self-esteem.
1. Decide If It’s Possible to Return to Past Employment
For some people, there’s a chance that they may be able to return to their old job. This is dependent on how they left and whether it was established that they were leaving to complete treatment for substance abuse. In any case, if you feel that your old job was a good fit, there’s no sense in disregarding an opportunity to return.
2. Decide How Much Information to Share
It is entirely up to you to decide whether you want to be up front about the fact that you’re in recovery from substance abuse. Depending on how open you want to be with a potential employer, you must match that level of honesty or privacy with anything you share online.
Because we live in the digital age, you can almost guarantee that an employer is going to look you up online. If you have already been open about being in recovery, it would be in your best interest to sustain that openness.
The main thing here is to proceed with caution. Don’t assume that an employer won’t search back two years or more. If you’ve posted information about your battle with drug or alcohol abuse, it’s out there.
With respect to the level of openness you decide, you may also consider at which point during the application process you feel comfortable revealing your history. Options include:
- If you are comfortable with choosing your words carefully, you might decide to include where you are in recovery in a cover letter.
- You could decide to wait until you’ve gotten an interview, which would allow the employer to meet you face to face. This could be beneficial if you are a warm and personable person.
- You’re not legally required to provide the information, so another option would be to wait until after you are hired to share your situation.
The thing to remember is that each of these time frames have pros and cons. For example, you may be asked to complete a pre-employment drug test. In this case, if you are on any maintenance medications, such as suboxone or methadone, it would be in your best interest to be up front rather than telling a potential employer after the fact.
3. Know Your Legal Rights
The Americans with Disabilities Act safeguards people who have suffered from substance abuse from being discriminated against in the workplace. However, this law only protects people who are not currently using illegal drugs. You can’t be discriminated against based on seeking treatment for substance abuse, but active addiction does not meet the legal definition of a disability under the law.
4. Be Prepared
If you decide not to share that you are in recovery, be prepared to explain gaps in your employment history that could potentially be brought up during an interview. If you want to maintain your privacy, it’s a good idea to still find an honest route. Fabricating stories to fill in the gaps only put you at risk of being found out. You don’t want to begin a job on the basis of lies.
5. Focus on Your Strengths
Don’t be afraid to step into your own greatness. Getting sober is a huge feat. Whether you decide to voice that you are in recovery or not, utilize your substantial accomplishment as a boost to your self-esteem and self-worth.
Instead of focusing on skills that you don’t have, be creative. Use your experience, your hardships, and your victories as a foundation on which to stand.
6. Prepare for a Wide Spectrum of Reactions
It would be nice to believe that everyone can respond with empathy, or at the very least, kindness. Unfortunately, you have to remember that many people don’t understand what it means to be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
You might encounter a harsh comment or two during your job search. Don’t let that get you down. You are not defined by the thoughts or actions of the people around you.
7. Wait for a Good Fit
If you’re not comfortable at your workplace, you are putting your sobriety at risk. Not feeling comfortable is going to add to your stress and increase negative feelings of incompetence or low value.
Many people who have experienced substance abuse go on to be drug counselors or work within the realm of recovery. They are able to use their experiences in order to help others, which provides a great feeling of accomplishment.
Job hunting can be a challenge, but you must try your best to be patient and wait until the right opportunity comes along. At the end of the day, working at a place that makes you feel valued can only aid in sustaining your sobriety.