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Women at Work: A person in recovery understands the value of a job

September 30, 2018

Last week the Women at Work column covered September as being Suicide Awareness and Prevention month. September is also a month during which Addiction Recovery is celebrated and education is shared.

Being the mother of an adult in recovery does not make me an expert by any means, but it is a path we have been on for close to 10 years. There are ups and downs, moments full of pride and moments of anger and realism. Recovery is not fun, glamorous or full of joy, and I commend any and all who have stayed the path and traveled this less-than-easy journey.

At one of my many jobs I have had, I recall having an amazing person in recovery as our receptionist. Her personality was great, customers loved her and she connected well with the clientele. I also recall getting chastised for having this person covering our front desk. For some reason the positivity of this person turning their life around and making it better was not up front and center, rather this person’s past choices were the focus. Yes, there is a stigma associated with anyone who has a history of substance abuse or alcoholism.

More often than not, addicts in recovery make the best employees a company could ask for. Want to know why? Because they know gainful employment will aid in their success as a functional adult in today’s world. Being employed and sober means they can pay their own bills, put food on the table and provide a purpose in more than one way. They provide a purpose to the company that employs them, and they give themselves a purpose to remaining sober.

Unfortunately for addicts in recovery, getting a job is not as simple as updating a résumé or submitting an application or two. Many times their education is not as progressed as competing applicants, their qualifications are not the same and there are gaps in between jobs they have held. If they have ever been let go from a job due to addiction problems, chances are they lack credible or positive references.

If you are an addict in recovery, or you know someone who is, here are a few tips to help you become gainfully employed, because simply put, you deserve a job just as much as the next person.

First, start with whom you know. Sounds cliché, yes, but it is a start. As recovering addicts lose their old friends or move to new locations to get a fresh start, they meet a new network of counselors, sponsors and sober friends. Those new connections will help get you back on your feet and can provide positive references as to your trustworthiness and commitment to sobriety. In addition, your network probably has a list of companies who are willing to give newly recovering addicts a chance at a job. Companies who know they are bettering their communities by providing employment to those who need a new start.

Networking and talking with your new peers and counselors is an excellent start. But, do not stop there. Head to your workforce center or social services office where you can receive guidance, education and maybe placement services. Take as many online or in-person tutorials as you can to better your skills and abilities.

I have seen firsthand what it is like for a recovering addict to rebuild their lives. It is not pretty, and it is not easy to observe. The mothering “heart” in me wants to jump right in and fix everything that is painful and difficult. But the mothering “head” holds me back and says, “Let her learn.”

Rebuilding a life does not happen overnight nor can anyone else do it for you, so be patient and kind to yourself, it will happen.

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