Learning Skills for After Recovery

Learning Skills for After Recovery

Learning Skills for After Recovery

Table of Contents

Challenges Facing Job Seekers after Addiction Treatment

You’ve completed a significant step of recovery from addiction – graduating from treatment. Now that it’s time to start your life back up. It’s normal to feel nervous about what future awaits in the job force. It’s not always easy to obtain employment after addiction treatment. Still, with a little hard work, proper phrasing, and a healthy outlook, it’s very achievable.

Gaps in Resume

Gaps in your resume are the first challenge when job-seeking. Most employers don’t like to see more than a few months between jobs, especially if your career is rapidly changing, like technology and marketing. Plus, any gap in the resume is sure to raise a few questions.

Stigma Surrounding Addiction

The second challenge you’ll face is the public perception surrounding addiction. It’s worth noting that many medical officials understand that addiction is a disease. While that understanding is growing, it’s not widely adopted just yet. For now, recovery is a personal journey, and you should only share what you feel comfortable with.

How to Address Past Substance Abuse

Your addiction treatment is part of your story; as such, it’s up to you how much of it is revealed. Exceedingly few jobs require knowledge about a person’s drug history. As long as you’re loyal to your recovery and not currently using substances, you never have to bring it up. However, if you feel like you’re hiding some big secret, then it might be better just to let it out. You can share a little at a time or use it as an inspirational introduction story. The main thing to remember is only sharing as much as you are comfortable sharing.

Potential Employers Discriminating Because of Addiction

The ADA (Americans with Disability Act) or the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) can apply in times of discrimination. The ADA prevents employers from firing someone solely due to their illness. In this case, it means it’s illegal for an employer to fire you based on your past drug use. However, if you were to show up to work high or do something in direct violation of the employer’s drug policy, ADA won’t apply. The FMLA prevents employers from punishing a person for seeking addiction treatment.

How to Build a Resume After Addiction Treatment

Addressing the Gaps

The best way to address the gaps in your resume is with brevity. Make your answers short and sweet, and shift the conversation back to the present or the future. A go-to phrase may sound something like this:

“At the time, I was working on my personal development. Now that I’m in a good place, I’m excited to move forward with the right company. I’m qualified in…”

Remember to mention your qualifications as they apply to the job, speak about what the job would mean to you and why you’re a good fit. Don’t worry too much about explaining your past if you don’t want to.

Preparing to Answer Questions

You’re in the interview, the potential employer is scanning your resume, and then they do the one thing you weren’t expecting – they ask you a question. (Yikes.) Suddenly, you can’t remember your name, let alone what job you’re applying for. It’s ok if you’ve felt that way – most of us have. The best thing you can do in the days before an interview is staging a mock interview. It’s best to do it with friends or councilors, but, in a pinch, you can do it alone.

Prepare your answers to generic questions like, “Why do you want this job?” “Why should we hire you?” “Have you ever worked in this field before?” Roleplay answering these questions while you’re standing in front of the mirror. Don’t forget to focus on body language- be confident!

Preparing for Rejection

Rejection is a part of life – no matter who you are. It’s normal to take rejection personally, and sometimes it is. What matters most is how you handle it. Practice healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the sting of a denied job application. Do your best to learn and grow. If you’ve sent out at least a handful of resumes and haven’t scored an interview, it may be time to tweak your resume.

As you continue to improve your resume and interview answers, finding a job is all but guaranteed.

How to Address Past Substance Abuse During Your Job Search

Temp Agency

Temp agencies are a great place to start when completing rehabilitation. Many temp agencies offer entry-level positions to help you get your foot in the door with an employer. When it comes to sharing your history, it’s always a matter of choice. The same is true for any employers the agency assigns you.


Freelance jobs have an ever-shifting marketplace. As such, most employers won’t delve too far into your past. If you can provide samples of past work combined with proof of current capabilities, finding freelance work shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re unsure if you can handle full-time freelancing, then obtain a 9-5 job and build your freelancing slowly.

Service Jobs

Service jobs like waiter, warehousing, or cashiers often provide stable, albeit busy, environments in which to work. The repetition of the day-to-day may help you stick to your post-rehabilitation routine without adding undue stress.

Volunteer Work

Volunteer work is another excellent option to network, gain references, and beef up your resume without having to reveal too much information about your past.

Can You Get Your Old Job Back?

Disability Laws – Federal

The ADA kicks in for any individual that has recently completed a drug rehabilitation program. This protection means that employers can’t deny your application based solely on your treatment and history. However, some employers may have a no rehire clause for employees who were let go under less-than-optimal conditions.

Disability Laws – Ohio

Under the ADA, if an employee requests time off to seek medical help for a disability, the employer cannot terminate them – this includes drug treatment. Also, the time it takes to complete a program may be covered under the FMLA.

What to Do if You Feel a Potential Employer is Discriminating

If you think your employer is discriminating against you, then reach out to one or both of the following offices.

Federal Resource

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

P: 800-669-4000

Contact the EEOC within 300 days of the incident.

Ohio Resources

Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC)1, 2

P: 888-278-7101

Contact the OCRC within 180 days of the incident

How to Address Substance Use and Addiction Treatment on a College Application


Honesty is best if you choose to touch on your past substance use in a college application. Be concise but be sure to explain why you started abusing substances and the headspace you were in at the time. Be sure to draw clear lines between who you were then and who you are now to highlight your personal growth better.

Highlight Recovery as Proof of Resolve

Don’t be afraid to use your past to your advantage. Addiction is a lifelong journey. But the fact of the matter is – you made it through the worse. Be proud of yourself and phrase it accordingly.

Collegiate Recovery Programs

Not all colleges offer recovery programs. However, they have been shown to increase school retention during recovery from substance use.3  Confer with your college for more information. Arrow Passage Recovery offers recovery options for all walks of life. Contact us to learn about your options.

How to Find Housing after Substance Use and Addiction Treatment

Recovery Housing

Recovery Houses are perfect for those of us whose home environment is too chaotic for healing. Typically, entrance is based on referrals from a rehabilitation program.4

Permanent Supportive Housing

Also known as PSH, these houses are run by local nonprofits. Contact your local government benefits office for more information.

Scheduling and Transportation to Medical Appointments

Following up with your post-rehabilitation plan can be tricky without transportation. Here are some resources that may be able to help:
  • Your treatment center
  • Churches or nonprofits
  • Taxis or ride-sharing services
  • Public transportation

The Challenge of Probation and Parole Officers

The Importance of Keeping These Appointments

Skipping out on your parole officer or violating your probation can lead to lengthy jail time and harsher sentencing. Going to jail increases the risk of relapse, fractured relationships, and generally, stalling your development. Make your appointments with your parole officer to avoid this.

If You Are Having Trouble Talk to the Officer

Your parole officer is there for a reason. Use them as a resource. Discuss the challenges and stressors you’re facing. They’ll be able to help guide you and provide the tools to start fresh.

Call Your Treatment Center for Help

Reach out to your treatment center if you have difficulty finding help or want to reconnect with your team. If you’re in treatment, then an extension may be an option. Use all the resources at your disposal. No one overcomes addiction alone.

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