Job Opportunities After Rehab: What Are Your Options?
A 2012 study found that getting a job after rehab is leads to lower rates of relapse and a higher percentage of positive treatment outcomes. At TDRC, a high percentage of our residents are employed and many go back to school. In both cases, they dramatically improved their chances for continuing sobriety.
Going back to work after Rehab presents some challenges, not the least of which is that most patients choose to continue their recovery (wisely) in a sober living home or other residential treament facility. Continuing one’s treatment in “aftercare” is critical to recovery success.
For those who want to or need to work, there are still some real barriers which include:
- Large unexplained gaps in their resume
- Poor educational experience or skill deficits
- A criminal record
Such obstacles can be daunting in any job search—but they’re completely manageable. We already know that many employers want to hire people in recovery. Why? Because people in successful recovery often give back to their community at a rate that is roughly double that of the general population.
If you’re just out of rehab and looking for a job, you should have a positive outlook. These tips can help you surmount any obstacles to finding job prospects and landing a job that is not only a good fit, but one that makes you happy.
Leverage Your Network
Whether you’re a CEO or a service worker, networking is crucial. If a past addiction has kept you isolated from friends and family, iyou’ll have to rebuild your network. This means being social, but remember: you want your new friends to look more like your future than your past.
We encourage our clients to make the most of the relationships that they’re forming within their 12-step or other support groups. Other peers in recovery, starting with your sponsor, may have job leads or even be willing to serve as references.
Additionally, many treatment centers have partnerships with businesses in their local community, including programs that, with the oversight of a case manager or other career counselor, can refer you to openings. Whether you’re an existing client in treatment or fresh out of rehab, these resources can often turn up promising leads and expand your network of contacts. This is the best place to start.
Adjust Your Expectations
You may have to adjust your expectations or let go of them entirely. If you’ve been out of the work force for awhile, your skills may need polishing. With gaps in your employment, you may have to let go of the expectation that you’ll tumble right into an upper management role. Letting go of expectations may mean being open to more job opportunities after Rehab if you check your ego for a moment and considered each opportunity as a stepping stone. It can also mean you should:
- Be willing to take an entry-level or part-time position and work your way up.
- Revisit any default assumptions that you may be making in your job search about what you can and cannot do.
- Be open to new people and new ideas.
- Be patient with yourself and the process.
- See the positive lesson in every interaction.
- Detach yourself from outcomes and practice mindfulness about the journey.
There are plenty of job opportunities after Rehab if you look in the right places and ask the right people.
Volunteer Your Skills
Get involved in a service opportunity that gives you a sense of passion and purpose. Often these are areas where your natural abilities shine and can be used to help others. At TDRC, we participate in many volunteer programs such as feeding the homeless, shelter work and other activities.
Prospective employers love to see that you’re engaged in volunteer work. You’ll also be building your skillset while prioritizing your recovery. In some cases, too, a volunteer commitment can turn into a paying job -we’ve seen it happen.
Lean on Your Job Resources
There are organizations that help connect you with job opportunities after Rehab. You can use these to further your education and connect with prospective employers:
- Sites like America in Recovery post openings for people in recovery. (Their website is down as of this writing Aug 2019)
- SpringHire is another such site.
- National H.I.R.E. network is another one.
- LinkedIn offers free educational podcasts on a wide range of topics and can be used to find job openings.
- Meetup groups also host live workshops, trainings and other educational events.
- Many treatment centers offer free informational events for the recovery community.
Freshen Your Skills
If you were a welder before your addiction, there’s no reason not to get caught up and pursue that trade if it interests you. If you’re still committed to a line of work, use recovery as as a time to get caught up on any training or new technology that would better qualify you for a new job.
A lot of our clients end up deciding on a career in the addiction treatment world. Many people in this industry were once addicts and as studies show, the best treatment providers have gone through treatment themselves.
Another option is to enroll in trade or educational schools or training to learn new skills.
Don’t Mention Your Recovery Unless You Have To
Your recovery shouldn’t be the first thing a prospective employer knows about you. Avoid inadvertently drawing attention to a past history of addiction.
If an employer asks about a gap in your resume, it’s not dishonest to say that you chose to take a “professional sabbatical” in order to reconnect with yourself. In some instances, you may have to be more explicitly honest but still succinct (that you once struggled with an addiction but are successfully in recovery, for example). You do need to be honest regarding a past felony or DUI that may be on your record, however.
Finally, know your rights with prospective employers, including what questions they are allowed to ask you.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. With a little hard work and some confidence, you’re bound to land a job you love.