What Kind of Job Should You Get in Early Recovery?

What Kind of Job Should You Get in Early Recovery?

Transitioning from rehab to the real world can be challenging, especially for people who need to find jobs. The prospect of job hunting seems daunting to many recovering addicts who are new to the sober lifestyle, because they worry about discrimination. The good news on this front is that, even though addiction may have temporarily sidelined you professionally, recovery will put you ahead. Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that treatment improves any addict’s attractiveness to potential employers. It also translates into higher earning power.

Whether you worry about getting turned down or something else entirely—like how you will cope with the stress of steady work—fear not. Getting the right information is the key to a smooth reentry.

Before You Beat the Bushes: Essentials Considerations

If you are trying to identify the best place to start looking for work, then you may need to look no further than you own backyard, as your recovery community is one of the best places to network. Experts at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration argue that friends from rehab, counselors and members of your 12-Step community can be dynamic allies in your quest for employment. These people understand your recovery goals, so they can ask you pertinent questions to raise your self –awareness. In fact, they can help you ask any of the following questions of yourself:

  • Am I ready? Timing your reentry is paramount. Canvass your support team for advice to safeguard yourself against dragging your feet or jumping in too soon.
  • Can I handle the stress? Since anxiety can trigger relapse, a low-key position that does not demand much mental focus is often a smart choice in early recovery.
  • What sort of hours should I consider? If your sobriety hinges on attending support group meetings, then find a job with flexible hours. Fit your work schedule to your sober goals, not the other way around.
  • Should I look for something low pressure? Although you may have been a rocket scientist before you got sober, reentering a high-pressure environment may be a mistake in early sobriety if it threatens your recovery. Taking it slow at the beginning may pay off with steady success in the long run.

People who fight procrastination should take special note of one fact: just as it is important to avoid work before you can handle the stress, it is critical not to drag your feet. Sitting around with nothing to do can lead to boredom and depression, two known relapse triggers. Conversely, working can keep you sober, because it erects a barrier against relapse. According to research experts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, acquiring and maintaining employment is a strong predictor of long-term successful treatment outcomes. Working often leads to the following benefits:

  • Improved ability to set goals
  • Positive daily structure
  • Increased financial freedom

If going back to work still feels scary, then take heart. One benefit of attending professional treatment is receiving career counseling, and most rehab centers include this input as part of an overall recovery plan.

Staying Sober While You Wait….and Wait

Be prepared to practice patience. Most people do not land jobs immediately, but, if you forget this truth, then you may fall into a trap of doubting yourself, your talents or your ability to start life over. To overcome negative thinking as you wait, stay engaged in the present moment. Ruminating on the past can lead to regret and subsequent depression, while trying to peer into the future can generate anxiety. Instead of trying to change things you cannot change—like opportunities that may have slipped away due to drug use, or catastrophes that might strike in the future—change the things you can. Chances are, there is plenty to keep you busy in the 24 hours you are actually in.

Networking is one way to make good use of spare time while you hunt for work, as is gathering information and accessing resources that cater to the unique needs of people in recovery. Several government programs and non-profit organizations with a specific focus on career counseling and placement for people in recovery, such as the following examples:

  • The Department of Labor’s One Stop Career Center
  • America In Recovery
  • The National Hire Network

Find ways to serve others to keep your self-esteem high and your days productive. If paid work eludes you, then find volunteer work that you are passionate about to build your resume with job skills and experience. The following options also help you make use of your downtime:

  • Get a training upgrade – If you are not qualified for the job you want, then look for job training programs offered at your local employment center
  • Get entrepreneurial – Create your own small business and hire yourself
  • Go virtualIf you can write, design, program, or have fine art, photography or video skills, then look for work online
  • Consider internship programs – The idea of free labor can be tempting to an employer and put you on an inside track to future paid employment
  • Sign up with a temp agency – Employers seeking temporary labor may not care as much about the background of prospective workers

When all is said and done, the most important part of your job search is staying sober. Every day you resist relapse and take positive action increase your chances of getting hired, because it puts more distance between your new life and your chaotic past.

Get Help for Addiction

You can recover from addiction. Admissions coordinators are available at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to help you transition from addiction to a drug-free life. Do not go it alone when help is just one phone call away. You never have to go back to a life of addiction if you call now.