Author: Justin Mckibben
One of the most incredible experiences I have been blessed to have in recovery is to work in the treatment industry. Working in the field of addiction treatment offers so many different variations of opportunity for all types of talents, from work with admission of new clients, to behavioral health professionals, and even the most effective therapists are often in recovery. Even a humble journalist who writes amazing and inspirational blogs while helping to spread the word of recovery and treatment can be someone who maintains sobriety. So many people want to know, how can I get a job in the treatment industry?
Identify the Position
One thing that is important to get started is to figure out which type of work you would like to do in the field of drug and alcohol treatment. Some people are more suited and more interested in positions that don’t deal too intimately with clients, and are more focused on the development of treatment and the technical side of helping develop and refine treatment strategies or administrative methods.
Other people want to work a little more hands on with individuals. I know initially I wanted to work directly with clients as a behavioral health technician in order to make more frequent personal communication with clients and try and be of service to people who have not yet been given a chance to see what recovery is like, because people did it for me and it inspired me to stay sober.
Whatever it is you want to do, make sure to identify your goal in a position and make sure that it is what you want before pursuing it.
Cultivate Your Contribution
In recovery we are taught that our new purpose is to be of maximum use to others. So to better be of service someone looking for a job in addiction treatment should be sure to cultivate their contribution by learning as much as possible about what they can bring to the table for the position they are looking for.
Speaking with professionals and trying to learn more about the position and the training is a great way to get ahead of the game. Once you are aware of the type of contribution you’re expected to make in the job you are looking for, be sure to do your homework. If it is a position that requires schooling, see if there are entry level positions available while you take the necessary classes.
Staying clean and sober is a requirement for people in recovery to get work in the field, because you have to have some time to develop your own program before you can have any productive input on someone else’s who has just arrived to recovery.
Accountability is so important in recovery, and you absolutely have to be an accountable individual in order to work in the drug and alcohol addiction treatment industry, because continued sobriety must be nurtured and promoted, because the best way to work with other addicts or alcoholics is to lead by example and empower them with successes and being dependable.
Also showing your ability to stay active and in touch with the right group of sober and positive people will help you out a lot when looking for work in treatment. When you are active in the recovery community and stay in contact with therapists or administrators you can consistently show you are reliable and ambitious about becoming part of the recovery work-force.
Also being active and accountable in whatever positions you hold while working towards this goal is very important. Any respectable job will want to see that you are able to stay on task, put forth a solid effort and be passionate about what you do. Also, seeking a position at the treatment center you attended may put you at an advantage depending on the company because you are familiar with the philosophy of that entity enough to understand and uphold their system.
Practice Your Principles
Make sure to keep growing and striving for the goal, and to practice your principles of sobriety openly and honestly. If you want to get work in the treatment industry and you’re in recovery it is vital that you stay on top of your own recovery, and again lead by example.
When practicing your principles whether you are training, interviewing or applying for work in treatment is important in order to communicate and express your talents and abilities in the position you’re seeking out. In recovery it is important not to set expectations, but be prepared to set the bar for yourself high so that you can provide a quality version of yourself to apply toward whatever you would do for a treatment facility.
While staying in contact and staying accountable to those who work at the treatment facility, let them see how you carry yourself as a sober individual, and emphasize your passion for these principles that have given you this new life of sobriety. One way or the other your actions will always speak volumes, so do not hesitate to volunteer your time to the treatment program, and apply yourself to every opportunity to show you have and learn and will teach from a personal experience.
Working in drug and alcohol addiction treatment is an amazing experience, and I was blessed enough to get a job doing what I love at a treatment center that had a huge part of saving my life. None of that would have been possible without other people in recovery who were working at Palm Partners when I was a client, and what they did to change my recovery is something I could only hope to contribute to someone else, because the disease of addiction is powerful and fatal, but thankfully we are all in this together. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Sometimes our past isn’t easy to get away from when we are trying to change our future, and plenty of people in recovery have an arrest record to prove it. When looking for work our old behaviors and consequences get dragged out in the open, and not all employers understand depending on the charges. Some recovering addicts and alcoholics have a tough time finding work because of their record once they have made the decision to change, and after getting started whether through treatment or other methods they struggle to find financial stability.
A lot of people in recovery come across a pretty common question, how can I get a job with a record? Depending on your area, and what kind of industry dominates, you may have an easier time than you think. Here are a few common suggestions to get you started, including specific job options or just strategies on approaching the situation.
- Driving Jobs
Depending on the nature of your record, some opportunities still exist with jobs driving. If you still have a decently clean driving record you may still be able to get work in a number of different transportation businesses. Offences like DUI’s, reckless endangerment, or even excessive tickets may hinder these positions from being available. But if your driving record is in good shape look into work such as:
- Car wash operator
- Customer Courier
- Delivery Driver
- Truck Driver
A lot of construction and landscaping companies have private contractors or owners that will work with people. Positions in manual labor such as these often employ a fair amount of individuals with some type of arrest record or even pending court issues.
- Temp Agencies/Other Programs
Temporary Work Agencies are a pretty huge help for people with some kind of record, and there are even specific programs set up in some areas geared specially to assist with rehabilitation of ex-cons and people who have difficulty finding work due to criminal history. Temp Agencies will often assess your criminal background and optimize their list of affiliate companies in order to find you work where businesses won’t deny you based on your record.
Some companies like UPS have policies where they hire felons and other people who would have a harder time finding work based on a record as part of an effort to help reform ex-cons. Do a little research and see what kind of programs or agencies may be in your area to assist you.
- Mom and Pop Shop’s
Sometimes an easy route is to look for smaller family owned businesses where there is not so much corporate regulation on their hiring requirements. Working at a small privately owned business to get a decent amount of experience especially in a more specific skill set like auto-repair or installations may help you build up a resume strong enough that you can later work for larger companies with extensive enough experience in a trade.
Many times companies have a tougher time finding employees who will work the grave-yard hours. It could range from stocking grocery store shelves to kitchen jobs in restaurants, depending on the nature of your record and the time frame. Especially if the business is closed to customers and it is primarily manual labor or cleaning after hours then you may have a better shot.
- Being Honest
Honesty goes a long way with a lot of employers. If you can get to an interview and take the time to speak openly with the owner or upper-management, be sure to explain the situation as well as you can, and emphasize the fact that you are actively changing your life. Explain the nature of the offense if they have not yet conducted a background check so that there are no surprises when they do, and let them know that you are willing to work to prove yourself. Some employers will be sympathetic in your situation, and you can sometimes be surprised how far it takes you.
- Ask for Help
In this respect, a recommendation is a huge help as well. If you keep your friends informed of the situation and ask that they help you in regards to getting an interview it can also give you an edge on getting past the initial snag on an application. Again, honesty here really comes in handy. If someone makes an effort to vouch for you, make sure you show up early, dressed to impress and ready to lay the facts out for the interview. Again any experience you can build up now, even if the job is not what you want, can help you later on down the line.
- Do NOT Give Up
So many people give up far too early and revert back to old habits. These are just a few options listed that are available to you, and you may give a few a shot once or twice and they may work out, they may not. The point is that you stay consistent in your efforts. If you have tried some of these and you’re still having trouble that is not a dead end, you just have not found the right route. NO ONE is completely and totally unemployable.
I personally know plenty of people with felony records, ex-cons and reckless drivers with disaster records who have put in the footwork to find a way to make a living. Sometimes it is surprising the kind of awesome job opportunity you can find when you just don’t give up. What is it we hear all the time in the rooms of recovery? Don’t quit before the miracle happens.
So many people in recovery face the same problems and must hurdle the same obstacles in order for real progression. Sometimes circumstances seem more limiting than they really are, and sometimes those who suffer confine themselves too closely to the excuses and stories they tell themselves not to get clean and stay sober. There is always a way to get the job done, if you’re willing to put the work in and change for life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135