Employment in Long-Term Recovery: When Is the Right Time to Get a Job?

Battling addiction is a daunting enough task – add the stress of hunting for a new job, and it can be overwhelming. How do you know when you’re ready? Where should you start looking? What types of jobs are appropriate for a recovering addict?

Slow down. One step at a time.

First, understand that it’s common for substance abuse to lead to unemployment. You’re not alone. Drug and alcohol addictions inevitably lead to priorities shifting away from job responsibilities and focusing on the substance abuse instead. Addicts often come to work late, high, or hungover, if they show up for their shift at all. That isn’t conducive for a work environment.

Long-term recovery means more than just detoxing and getting sober – it means putting the pieces of your life together. So, where do you start?

What Types of Jobs Are Suitable for People in Early Recovery?

Finding employment in recovery can be challenging. If you’re not sure how to get started, talk with a sponsor, counselor, or contact someone you trust within a program or support group. There may be local resources and agencies that can help you.

Here are some good jobs for recovering addicts to consider:

It’s common for former addicts to find work within the recovery system. They bring firsthand knowledge and experience about addiction, treatment, and the struggles that come with getting sober. If this field interests you, look into roles such as addiction counselors, social workers, recovery coaches, et cetera.

If you’re not ready to fully dive back into a full-time job yet, try easing into a part-time job to start. These types of jobs are usually less stressful and aren’t career-based, so you have some time to get back into the swing of working while you figure out where you want to go next.

Rehab often exposes addicts to creative and holistic programs. You may have met art therapists, music therapists, spiritual guides, nutritionists, personal trainers, yoga or dance instructors, et cetera. Did any of these programs resonate with you? Can you see yourself becoming an instructor and teaching others?

If you’ve noticed a connection between your stressful former career and your substance abuse, that’s a good sign it’s past time to change career paths. Vocational jobs such as beauticians, electricians, and dental hygienists rely on hands-on trade school experience, which might be a better option than an academic-focused career that would require going back to school for a two-year or four-year degree.

If you’re feeling completely lost and unsure what you want to do, consider a temp agency that will temporarily place you into various jobs depending on your skills and the seasonal needs of local businesses. This is a great way to gain experience and try your hand at different jobs. Some temp jobs are also temp-to-permanent if you find something you enjoy.

What is a Get-Well Job?

As you consider your employment options, remember to avoid putting yourself in a situation where you’re under too much pressure. Anxiety and depression are dangerous stressors in the recovery stage.

A get-well job refers to a low-stress job for people re-entering the workforce. That can apply to someone in recovery, but it can also be for people who were incarcerated or dropped out of the workforce for other reasons.

These types of jobs are a source of structure in your life. They build your confidence back up and provide a current job to list on your resume when you’re ready to start looking for a more serious career.

The Benefits of Appropriate Employment in Long-Term Recovery

Finding a job often brings benefits that have a positive impact on your journey through recovery:

Jobs that have a set schedule and reasonable level of predictability help to establish a routine. This regularly structured time creates a rhythm so your mind and body can learn to adjust to the repeated behavior. You’re setting the right patterns and habits into place.

Taking responsibility can be difficult, especially for those who have spent years shifting the blame for their substance abuse onto others. Every job comes with expectations and responsibilities. You’re responsible for arriving on time, completing tasks, meeting deadlines, et cetera. It’s an excellent way to train your brain to accept responsibility again.

While responsibility is task-oriented, accountability requires taking ownership. It’s essential for building trust and preparing for any leadership role.

Social Interaction
Strong social networks have a positive impact on recovery. Those who suffer from substance abuse often withdraw from friends and loved ones. Seeking employment while in recovery doesn’t necessarily mean your coworkers will become your new best friends, but those basic interactions can help you develop your social skills and improve communication skills.

Steady Income
There’s no getting around it – money makes the world go ’round. Whether you’ll be renting an apartment, paying a mortgage, or just restocking your refrigerator, you need to support yourself. Even if you aren’t footing those bills quite yet, a steady income means you can start saving money so you’re prepared when it’s time to live on your own.

Are You Ready to Find Employment in Long-Term Recovery?

Despite the benefits of a get-well job, you shouldn’t rush back into the workforce if you aren’t ready yet.

It’s tempting to try and resume normal life again, but adding too much pressure and stress too soon can have a negative rather than positive impact. Pay close attention to your overall mental health throughout your recovery.

Considering the current labor revolution and the pandemic’s impact on new addictions and relapses, the world is a chaotic place right now. It’s okay if you need more time.

Have a support system in place to help you. Consider going to therapy so you can deal with any underlying issues or trauma that led you down the road to addiction in the first place. A therapist or counselor can also help you find healthy ways to cope with the stress of searching for a job and readjusting to new responsibilities.

A therapeutic community is a safe, supportive environment as people in recovery return to the working world. Here at Ethos Recovery, our goal is to create a community support system for those in long-term recovery.

Contact us for more information about how we can help you or a loved one.