The initial months of recovery can be so challenging that all you can do is take life day-by-day, sometimes even minute by minute — but now you’re in the next phase of recovery.

You’re forward-focused, ready to plan your future and line up your new career (or, perhaps, a previous one). Whether you’re looking to jump back into the workforce full-time, part-time or maybe even on a hybrid schedule, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’re going to share with you a variety of tips and skills to help you navigate the job market while in recovery from substance abuse.

The first step: mental anticipation

Entering the workforce after and especially during recovery is no easy task; there will be inevitable obstacles you will have to overcome in order to get a job.

If it hasn’t been too long since your last employment, the challenges will be fewer; but if it’s been years since you last had a job, or if you’ve acquired criminal charges on your record, these are all examples of obstacles you’ll have to navigate.

The good news is it’s never too late to rebuild your life; and that leads us into the next step.

The second step: building life skills

One of the best ways you can set yourself up for success in your new sober life, both for personal and professional reasons, is to focus on building up certain life skills in recovery.

You can start by making an honest assessment of any field-relevant knowledge or experience you might have, if you’re looking to return to a previous career. There may be some training you may need to refamiliarize yourself with, or certain certifications that need to be updated.

If you’re going to be starting a career for the first time though, or are choosing to start fresh in a new field, then you should make an honest assessment. Make a list of your skills and career goals to know exactly what you’re bringing to the table.

Some life skills you might want to focus on cultivating would be:

  • Interpersonal and communication
  • Decision making and problem-solving
  • Self-control and coping mechanisms
  • Creativity and the ability to brainstorm

Once you’re ready, it’s time to prep for the interviews.

The third step: preparing for interviews

One of the biggest concerns of those re-entering the workforce after struggling with substance use disorder is how to navigate interviews. It can be difficult to know when to disclose your former addiction, or if it even needs to be addressed at all.

The standard rule of thumb is don’t mention your past addiction unless you have to. Your privacy is protected — by law — throughout employment, including during the interview process. Employers are not allowed to ask about the use of legal drugs (if, for instance, you struggled with an opioid addiction), but they are allowed to inquire about the use of illegal drugs. 

Consider asking friends, former coworkers or even new connections you’ve formed throughout your rehabilitation to serve as references for you. Your network may be larger than you think; you can ask a house manager (if you did or are living in a sober living house) or even a current or previous sponsor from a 12-step group.

This can be an incredible way to boost your credentials and prove to an employer you’re serious about the job, especially if you had to disclose your previous addiction in the interview.

The fourth step: checking in with yourself

Searching for a job can be stressful—stress and anxiety can be overwhelming—these are factors that often play a role in triggering a relapse. As you update your resume, prepare for interviews, and even return to work, be sure to check in with yourself regularly on the physical, mental and emotional level.

Finding a job can often feel like it demands to be your top priority, but it’s important to remember that your true priority is maintaining your sobriety.

The final step: contacting us for support

Sometimes finding a balance between employment and self-care be challenging, or maybe you don’t know where to begin with finding a job — that’s okay. It’s why we’re here.

We’ve curated a carefully selected team of professionals here at Real Recovery that all share a passion for the same thing: helping you build a life of joy, purpose, and health after struggling with a substance use disorder.

There are a variety of different proven clinical services we offer, each of which is customizable to your unique needs; we pride ourselves on providing a person-based approach to healing. With us, you aren’t a problem to be fixed, you’re a person to be supported.

To speak with one of our admissions directors and learn more about how we can help you on your career path, submit a form or call our office today at 855-363-7325.