Addiction is common, but getting treatment for it is much less so. In 2013, only 11 percent of Americans aged 12 and older with alcohol or drug addictions got inpatient or outpatient treatment. People can be afraid of admitting they have a problem and going to rehab. But they’re also afraid of interrupting their lives to seek help for a medical issue. It’s far easier to find excuses for why you can’t go than to think about ways in which you might start putting your life back together after seeking treatment. But being addicted already makes it hard to do things like hold down a job. So chances are, you’re going to need to find a job after rehab in any case. Here are some tips on how to accomplish that.
Talk to your treatment team
Your first priority should be getting and staying clean. But once you’ve reached some stability there, you can discuss other issues. Whether you’re getting treatment in a Toronto rehab centre or a Los Angeles outpatient facility, your team should have some idea of how you’ll get back on your feet and try to find a new “normal” that includes sobriety.
Obviously, not all jobs will be appropriate for someone who is in recovery. A big part of addiction means changing your social life, which means that problem drinkers generally shouldn’t hang out in bars a lot, especially not in the early and most tenuous stages of recovery. That also eliminates jobs like bartending or working security in a bar.
High-stress jobs can also make some people more likely to turn to substances they’ve abused in the past. If you’re a firefighter or police officer who is just out of rehab, it may be time to consider a career change. And if you’re an airline pilot, you may have to clear even more hurdles before getting back on the job. Airlines understandably don’t want pilots flying while high or intoxicated.
Find career counseling
Once you’ve consulted with your treatment team, you might still have questions. Your previous life might have revolved mostly around drugs and alcohol. You may have even been doing those substances on the job. When that happens, it can be hard to imagine taking on a job while you’re stone-cold sober. Switching careers can feel even more precarious, because what if no one wants to hire someone with a big gap on their resume?
This is where career counselors can come in and do a lot of good. Medical professionals and addiction specialists can do a lot of good, but they may not be aware of all the factors that go into play when you’re trying to find your first gig after rehab. They’re used to working with people struggling with addiction first and foremost, and there are some things they could miss when it comes time to find a new job.
But qualified career counselors will be able to look at both your work history and your history of treatment. If you’ve applied for 100 jobs in the past three months but are barely getting any interviews, they may be able to look at your resume and tell you why.
Don’t assume it’s because you’re giving off “I’m in recovery” vibes either. It could be that, but it’s more likely something basic. For instance, maybe there’s a problem with how you’re writing cover letters. Maybe you’re only applying to jobs for which you’re overqualified because you’re scared that no one will give you a chance. There are a ton of possible explanations. You don’t have to resign yourself to a minimum wage job forever just because you’ve struggled with addiction in the past. If you’re clean now and willing to work hard, that will go a long way with potential employers.