Learn / How to Find a Job After Rehab
By the time you get out of rehab, you might be looking for a new job. Perhaps the stress of your last career made your addiction worse. Or maybe you just want a fresh start as you enter the next phase of your life. Whatever your reasons, this can be a great time to make a change.
Addiction recovery is a major life transition. Your needs, goals, and abilities may be different than they used to be. And so the process of looking for work will probably be different, too. With this guide, you can learn how to find a job after rehab.
Even before you start looking for a job after rehab, you can set yourself up for success. Take this opportunity to assess your strengths, skills, and interests. Start by privately answering a few questions:
Thinking about these questions can help you decide what type of job to look for. And then, you’ll know what materials to gather for your search. Depending on your field, you may need some or all of the following:
Review each of these documents to confirm that they’re relevant and up to date, and be prepared to make changes. You’ll probably need to send out different versions of your resume and cover letter to every potential employer. While it can be time-consuming, that strategy lets you tailor each application to the specific job at hand.
After drug or alcohol rehab, your career goals might change. Your mental health history could be part of that. For example, jobs within certain industries have a higher risk of addiction.1 If the culture of your last job supported substance abuse, you might need to change fields. Or, you might need to work part-time while you attend outpatient treatment. The important thing is to look for a job that gives you a sense of purpose and supports your larger recovery goals.
Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to identify specific jobs that might be a good fit. These resources can help with your search:
Online job boards are a great place to start, but your personal network is just as important. Data shows that most job opportunities are never even posted online.5 Let your friends, family, and colleagues know you’re looking. They just might connect you with the perfect opportunity.
Your application materials should demonstrate that you understand the company’s needs. You can do this in several ways:
A job interview is your chance to make a good first impression. Up until this conversation, you’re just a name on a resume. But when you meet, they can get to know you as a whole person. It’s important to demonstrate your commitment here:
If you need to talk about your history of addiction, you can discuss it positively and professionally. What did you learn from the experience, and what are you still learning? Maybe you have a stronger support system than you once did, or you know more about how the brain works. Tell the interviewer how much you’ve grown, and what your goals are for the future. You can also tell them what you’d need from a new employer. For example, if you attend A.A. meetings every Tuesday at 2 pm, you might need those afternoons off.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination. In other words, you can’t be fired from a job just because you have a disability. The ADA applies to people with substance use disorders7 and mental health issues. These protections last throughout recovery, but they change in each stage of the hiring process.
It’s important to understand these laws so you can protect yourself from illegal discrimination. However, because many jobs come through personal networks, a potential employer might already know about your treatment history. Although they can’t legally ask more detailed questions, they might mention information they already have. If that happens, you can address their concerns without revealing anything new. In these conversations, look for ways to frame your recovery as a strength.
Finding employment doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during this process. You can find support from many types of relationships:
Reach out to your network for advice and emotional support, and to see if they know of any job openings. You might also be eligible for professional career coaching services. If you’re part of an aftercare program, ask your care team to connect you with these resources.
Don’t limit yourself to the people you already know. This is a great time to get out there and make new connections. You can do that by going to industry or networking events, attending conferences, and taking in-person classes on related topics.
Job searches are stressful for everyone. And if you’re in recovery, stress can be triggering.8
It’s important to commit to your recovery goals while you apply for jobs. Making a specific plan can help:
Learn more about how to get a job after rehab from the experts. Connect with specialists in an addiction treatment program today.
Finding a job after rehab requires preparation and a clear plan. Start by assessing your strengths, skills, and interests. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each job application, and explore job opportunities online and through your personal network. Interviewing successfully involves demonstrating your commitment and framing your recovery positively. It’s also helpful to understand your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and disclose your rehab history appropriately.
CareerOneStop, a national resource by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers job postings and educational materials. SkillSPAN, part of the National Skills Coalition, provides job skills training, career guidance, and more at the state level. The National H.I.R.E. Network helps people with criminal records find employment opportunities. Online job boards and personal networks are also valuable in job searches.
The job search process can be stressful, especially for those in addiction recovery. To maintain a healthy balance that’s conducive to your sobriety, schedule regular self-care activities like exercise and try to maintain a consistent sleep routine. Keep your commitments to your recovery, attend support groups, and stay in touch with your support network. Remember the importance of accountability and follow through with your commitment to long-term recovery.
Robert Yagoda. “Understanding the Link Between Stressful Occupations and Addiction.” U.S. News. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2016-09-26/understanding-the-link-between-stressful-occupations-and-addiction
“Legal Action Center | National H.I.R.E. Network.” Legal Action Center, https://www.lac.org/major-project/national-hire-network. Accessed 24 July 2023.
Careers and Career Information - CareerOneStop. https://www.careeronestop.org/. Accessed 24 July 2023.
“SkillSPAN.” National Skills Coalition, https://nationalskillscoalition.org/networks/skillspan/. Accessed 24 July 2023.
Institute, Julia Freeland Fisher, director of education research at the Clayton Christensen. “How to Get a Job Often Comes down to One Elite Personal Asset, and Many People Still Don’t Realize It.” CNBC, 27 Dec. 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/27/how-to-get-a-job-often-comes-down-to-one-elite-personal-asset.html.
Oliver, Vicky. “10 Common Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them.” Harvard Business Review, 11 Nov. 2021. hbr.org, https://hbr.org/2021/11/10-common-job-interview-questions-and-how-to-answer-them.
The ADA, Addiction, Recovery, and Employment | ADA National Network. https://adata.org/factsheet/ada-addiction-recovery-and-employment. Accessed 24 July 2023.
Sinha R. Chronic stress, drug use, and vulnerability to addiction. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Oct;1141:105-30. doi: 10.1196/annals.1441.030. PMID: 18991954; PMCID: PMC2732004.
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