Sticking to good habits can be hard work, and mistakes are part of the process. Don’t declare failure simply because you messed up or because you’re having trouble reaching your goals.
Instead, use your mistakes as opportunities to grow stronger and become better.”
– Amy Morin, American author and psychotherapist
Addiction is more than happy to make anyone its prisoner, casting its web over anyone it can, regardless of sex, religion, creed, age or anything else. No-one is exempt, and certainly nobody gets the old “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. A great number of those who get trapped are just ordinary people – simple, working class folk trying to withstand the pressure of making ends meet from one month to the next.
And, should those same people who struggle with the power of addiction finally achieve sobriety, how do they return to gainful employment? Just how do they manage to successfully return to work after rehab and everything that brings? One answer to these questions is “Be warned. It’s not easy,” but know this…
It is achievable. Many before you have faced the same problem, the same issues, and climbed the obstacles placed in their way. You can do it too, just like finally getting yourself clean and sober, and just like your continued recovery. Unsurprisingly, it takes a lot of hard work.
To give you the best possible chance to get back where you want to be in employment terms, here’s a little assistance – advice gained by my own personal experience, thorough research (essential in anything), and seeking out the professional help of employers, agencies, addiction specialists, and organizations created to deal with this very problem.
My personal experience? Suffice to say, and although I’ve been in rehab a few times, the ultimate time finally did the trick, and what I learned at the drug rehab in Seattle finally stuck with me. The tools they gave me worked to continue my recovery from both alcoholism and cocaine abuse really worked that time. Furthermore, I was back in gainful employment pretty quickly, for no other reason than I had people – family – who depended on me.
In fact, and you can have this essential tip for free before I start properly, if you can avoid returning to work for maybe a year after beginning your recovery, all the better. Any addiction professional will advise that you make no major changes to your live in your first 12 months of sobriety. And, when I did return to a working day, I made sure I followed Essential Tip #1 first.
So, here are your “5 Essential Tips for Successfully Returning to Work after Rehab.”
One of the things that any addiction will do best is this – destroy your self-confidence. Returning into the working populace after your recovery has begun takes a lot of this – being confident that you are just as capable as you were pre-addiction. In fact, you may well be more capable, because the experience of addiction followed by recovery can actually enhance you as a person.
So, volunteer. Work for free for a short while to build your self-confidence. Both the organization you have given your time too and yourself will benefit greatly from the experience. “Putting something back” is how it is often referred to. What your doing really is putting back some self-confidence into the way you do things, and that can only be a good thing in itself.
#2. Contact The Organizations Created For People Like You
You’re not the first recovering addict to return to work, and you certainly will not be the last. Organizations have been created for those in your position – former addicts reentering the workforce, so let’s introduce them to you:
- America in Recovery: A non-profit organization, America in Recovery helps recovering addicts by connecting them directly with employers.
- The Department of Labor’s One Stop Career Center: The U.S. Department of Labor puts recovering addicts in contact with their local career centers.
- National H.I.R.E. Network: The National HIRE network helps people with criminal records find jobs, but they also extend their services to those in addiction recovery.
- Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous 12-step meetings: These can be a great source for finding help locally to regain employment.
#3. Education Enhancement
The first months of your addiction recovery are your “calm” months – getting used to everything now you are clean and sober. If you have no urgency to return to work, best avoid it, and use your newly active mind to enhance your education. Courses can range from a few weeks to a year or so in length, so choose one that fits your schedule and your future goals. Believe me, it will not be time wasted.
#4. Freelancing Could Be The Perfect Solution
Whatever your circumstances (and, from person to person, they are as varied as snowflakes), the answer to your initial need to return to work could very well be freelancing. Most prospective employers of freelancers are highly unlikely to into a freelancer’s past. Furthermore, as a freelancer, you can pretty much set your own schedule. Winner, winner, chicken dinner, as they say. Common freelance jobs include writing (my particular field), proofreading, editing, designing, computer programming, photography and video production and a host more.
#5. An internship or Apprentice Program
As a recovering addict, you may need to prove to an employer that you are very capable of doing what they need. Additionally, that may be something you wish to actually prove to yourself. An internship or apprentice program could be the solution if that’s the case. Pay is obviously lower, but it gives you the opportunity to prove yourself to others. Both of these are potential routes into a full-time career.
Hi-Ho! Hi-Ho! Off to Work You Go…
As you reenter the job market, it’s up to you whether or not to tell a prospective employer about your former addiction. Your Mom may have said to you that “honesty is the best policy,” but I’d prefer to treat this information on a need-to-know basis. Furthermore, addiction is classified as a disease – you are not legally obligated to tell a prospective employer about your treatment for substance abuse. The choice of whether or not to tell an employer about your addiction is entirely yours.
These “5 Essential Tips for Successfully Returning to Work after Rehab” – volunteer, organizations to help you, education, freelancing, and internship or apprentice programs – will give you the best opportunity for throwing that pickaxe over your shoulder, and getting back to gainful employment, and I wish you all the very best in doing so.
Relapses are quite common when you are recovering from addiction. This doesn’t mean you should give up on your sobriety. It might be time to try another rehab experience. Consider entering a drug rehab program in Denver, Colorado. Their experienced staff can give you key insight into what it takes to stay sober. What advice would you give to fellow recovering addicts on returning to work? Please, feel free to share your own experiences with a comment below. Thanks.