When a person leaves residential treatment, they must often look for a new job. The consistency of work bolsters recovery. Plus, many sober living facilities require employment to reside there. Oftentimes, job searching can create anxiety in even the most qualified candidates.
Challenges of Finding a Job in Recovery
Treatment is extremely important to living a substance-free life. It provides a solid foundation for sobriety. For some, it can be difficult finding a job after rehabilitation though. People will substance use disorders (SUDs) will likely have a gap in their resume from when they were in treatment. If their previous employers fired them, they might not have professional references. Their job history may show inconsistencies due to drug or alcohol use. A potential employer could use any criminal record as a reason to question an applicant. Moreover, a person in recovery might not know whether to disclose their history of addiction. All of these issues create a barrier to gainful employment.
Despite the challenges, the following five tips can assist you in your job search.
#1. Create a Professional Image
Though it may seem archaic and unproductive, appearance still impacts hiring practices. The halo effect largely explains why. Coined by psychologist Edward L. Thorndike, this term explains that people take one positive attribute and extend it to other traits. Someone well-groomed is smart. Someone pretty is organized. Someone put together physically has a good work ethic. Though the logic doesn’t hold up to criticism, it drives the assumptions we make. It can play a large role in why one job candidate is selected over another.
If you’re looking for a new job after treatment, make sure you present yourself in the best possible light. You could get a haircut. Brushing your teeth and wearing deodorant will ensure good hygiene. Obtain interview-appropriate attire. For those who can’t afford to purchase brand new clothes, look at thrift stores. Many local organizations also provide free interview attire.
#2. Know Your Rights
When applying for a job after treatment, you must ensure you know your rights. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) created a document called Enforcement Guidance: Preemployment Disability-Related Questions and Medical Examinations to help guide people on what questions an interviewer can and cannot legally ask about disabilities.
Substance use disorders are considered disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Casual substance use, however, is not protected. Due to this, some questions about alcohol and drug use are legally permissible. This becomes slightly more complex because different standards apply to legal substances and illicit substances. Illicit substances are only covered by the ADA when a person is in recovery. Overall, certain questions are consistently allowed or disallowed.
Questions allowed by the EEOC include:
- Are you currently using alcohol or drugs?
- Do you have an arrest or conviction record?
- Do you currently use illicit substances?
- Have you ever been arrested for a DUI?
- Do you have gaps in your employment history?
- What was the reason you left your last job?
- Can you explain your positive drug test results?
Questions not allowed by the EEOC include:
- Are you currently or have you previously been addicted to any substances?
- Have you ever sought out treatment at a rehab facility?
- What medications do you currently take?
- Do you have any psychological disorders? *
- How much alcohol do you drink?
- Have you ever been treated for drug abuse?
*Employers cannot administer psychiatric tests aimed at diagnosing any mental disorders. Examples: RUOK Test, MMPI, BDI, AASQ.
#3. Use Your Resources
It takes a lot of support to maintain recovery after treatment. It can be challenging to get back on your feet in the outside world. Luckily, certain organizations dedicate themselves to helping people in recovery find employment. When you’re ready to take a step back into the career world, they can guide you through the process. On a national level, the H.I.R.E. Network helps people with substance use disorders and criminal records find employment. State programs, like Colorado’s Individual Placement and Support Program, also work to match up people in recovery with careers.
It is also worth looking outside of recovery-only employment initiatives. The Department of Labor’s One-Stop Career Center offers training and placement assistance to all job seekers. Working with temp agencies can also serve to pad your resume. It will get a job under your belt while you search for something more long-term.
#4. Look for Structured Jobs
Before treatment, many people with substance use disorders lack consistency. Their drug or alcohol use might have made it difficult to follow through on schedules. If you struggled with this, rigid routines may benefit you during recovery. The stability eases the transition from a residential facility to outside responsibilities. A nine-to-five job might provide enough dependability to decrease work-related anxiety. Meanwhile, high-stress jobs with constantly changing variables may trigger relapses. It may be best to seek simplicity until you feel more stable in your sobriety.
#5. Check In With Your Mental Health
When a person walks the path to recovery, they dedicate themselves to a new life. People can easily get swept up in the stress of job searching though. You should prioritize your recovery even after treatment. Scheduling regular check-ins for your mental health will promote mindfulness. Since ADA covers substance use disorders, you can also request reasonable accommodations to attend 12-Step meetings, therapy appointments, and support groups. All of these actions will allow you to keep yourself on track.
Many people in recovery struggle to find gainful employment. The stress created by job instability can be enough to cause relapses for people with substance use disorders. If you’ve stumbled back into substance abuse, Spero Recovery can assist you in healing again. Our Spero Recovery treatment facility offers 30- to 90-day programs with highly individualized care. Patients’ time is filled with 12-Step meetings and experiential therapies. You’ll hike, cook, meditate, and live with others seeking out sobriety. Our alumni will guide you in the right direction. The foothills of the Rocky Mountains also offer beautiful scenery that makes our facility the perfect place to recenter. After getting yourself back on track, you can enter one of our six sober living homes in the Denver area. All of these homes promote accountability, sobriety, and happiness. When you are ready to recommit to recovery, call Spero Recovery at (303) 351-7888.