Second Chances: Getting a Job After Drug Rehab

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One of the major challenges after completing drug rehab is returning to the work world. With so much to think about – building a resume, going on an interview and accepting a position – it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed. Not to mention, employment for anyone in this market is challenging. But, difficult does not equal impossible. Many opportunities are available, so keep your head held high and remember the value in accepting any job: a steady income, added experience and the ability to move up.

Here are a few key things to keep in mind as you look for employment after rehab.

Pair Up With a Work Program

Look for government programs or non-profit organizations in your local area that work with recovering drug addicts to help them find a steady job. America in Recovery and the National Hire Network are two good places to start. The Department of Labor One Stop Career Center also urges recovering addicts to get into contact with their service locator to have access to a nationwide network of career centers. You can also work with your treatment center that may have access to local work programs.

Avoid Discouragement

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having a hard time finding employment or adjusting to your new job. It’s easy to blame these difficulties on a past addiction, but the fact is that finding a job or starting a new position is hard on anyone. If you continue to blame these challenges on your addiction, it could lead to frustration, discouragement and possible relapse. Approach things with a one-day-at-a-time mentality.

Stick to Your Goals

You’ve seen what a difference sticking with a drug treatment program has made in your life, and the same is true when seeking employment. Perseverance pays off, so continue to stick to your goals and spend time each day doing something related to finding a job, whether it’s applying for positions, working with a job placement agency or going on interviews. Something will present itself eventually.

Remember Your Self Worth

When things don’t work out in early recovery, it’s easy to blame things on your addiction and end up feeling like a victim. This is a dangerous trap to fall into. Remind yourself that you are valuable and will be an asset to any team. Think about the skills you possess and how they can be applied to the jobs you are interested in. You are much more than a recovering addict. You may be an excellent writer, a passionate artist or a people person. Unless the job requires it, you don’t have to share your past.

Be Open to All Opportunities 

It's possible that you won't be able to pick up where you left off in your career path. You may have to start with an entry level position, such as working at a fast food restaurant or retail outlet. There is nothing wrong with this, especially since you'll be getting your foot back in the door and getting used to a routine. You can always work your way up, or align yourself with new job opportunities. Be open to everything that comes your way. Turning down entry level positions in hopes of finding something better is not the best approach. 

Continue Aftercare

You’re doing more than simply looking for a job. You’re transitioning to a new part of your life. This is stressful, and you will need the support of others during this time. Maintain aftercare by attending support groups and meetings, and perhaps meeting with a counselor each week. This part of your life deserves just as much attention as treatment did, and you can gain perspective from others who are going through the same obstacles as you.

What if You Can’t Find Work?


If you can’t find employment, volunteer some of your time. This will give you purpose and allow you to build crucial skills that can be added to your resume. If the volunteer position is closely related to the type of work you’d like to do, you may be able to align yourself with a paid position in the future.

Start Your Own Business

Volunteering is rewarding, but if you can’t wait for a paycheck, consider starting your own small business. Think along the lines of being a dog walker, handyman or lawn mower. You don’t need much to get started, and you can begin working for close family and friends who will be happy to see you with steady work.

Sign Up With a Temp Agency

Often, employers seeking temporary work aren’t as concerned with the backgrounds of these workers, so you may have a variety of jobs available to you. Sign up with your local temp agency and be prepared to have anything thrown at you. At least with temp work, you’ll be getting out of the house and trying new things regularly.

You have been given a second chance at life. Make the most of it.