Transitioning From Recovery Back Into Your Career


By Jill Gonzalez

Approximately 24 million people in the United States are in need of some type of drug or alcohol addiction treatment, yet only about one out of every 10 of those people actually receives the treatment they so desperately need. With drug and alcohol abuse continuing to be on the rise, rehabilitation and recovery programs often find themselves scrambling in an effort to help their patients re-enter the workforce once their recovery is complete.

The reality is that drug and alcohol addictions are both stigmas that tend to ostracize people for years, even after they have successfully gone through treatment and recovery and are actively seeking to recapture some type of normal life. But finding a job after completing recovery isn’t an impossible task, as long as you keep the following things in mind.

Getting Back to Work

If you have gone through an addiction treatment and recovery program and discover that you are having difficulty finding a job, you might want to consider finding some avenues of support to help you through this new transitional period. Halfway houses can provide you some structure and can help you find at least a temporary job that may help get you back on your feet and re-accustomed to the working world.

As you work through one or more transitional jobs, you may eventually discover that you are going to have to find a completely different career field than the one you had before. Depending on your situation, including your educational background and work experience, you may need to take either a lower level job than you are used to having, or you might need to take something on a part-time basis simply to get your foot in the door with a company. This is not at all uncommon, so try not to be discouraged if this happens to you.

Issues Facing Recovering Addicts in the Workplace

One of the reasons it is so difficult for recovering addicts to find employment, either with their previous employer or a new one, is that employers in the United States spend billions of dollars each year in lost productivity time because of having workers on their payrolls miss work because of drug or alcohol problems.

In addition, employers spend more than $15 billion per year in health insurance costs that are related to substance abuse issues. These tremendous costs contribute to the reluctance that most employers feel when faced with a job candidate that they know has a history of drug or alcohol abuse. For this reason alone, you may find it difficult to get your old job back after you have successfully completed rehab.

There are other factors that typically play a role in keeping addicts from being able to find jobs, however. One such issue is that if an employer knows that you have a history of substance abuse of any kind, they are going to be somewhat reluctant to hire you simply because of the fear of a potential relapse. Employers might also be concerned about on-the-job safety, especially in manufacturing or other industrial types of environments.

Don’t Get Discouraged

One of the most important things to keep in mind as you launch your search for a job or a new career is not to get discouraged by rejection. Everyone gets rejected from time to time when searching for a job, even people who have never been through substance abuse rehab.

It is important that you try to maintain a positive outlook on your situation, remembering that you made it through a rough addiction treatment program and that you have been able to maintain your recovery. These are important accomplishments, and they should help to keep your spirits boosted as you go through your search for employment.

If you are able to maintain a positive attitude not only throughout your treatment and recovery, but through your job search as well, you will be far more likely to ultimately be successful in your search and in your career.

Keep in mind that there are some substance abuse treatment centers that not only provide complete rehabilitation and recovery services, they provide services to their patients to help them reenter the working world after treatment. If you are currently searching for an addiction treatment program, look for one that is fully equipped to both help you overcome your addiction and help you become fully reoriented to the working world once your treatment is complete.

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