After getting sober or completing treatment, one of the first things many look for is employment. It can be an overwhelming process and you may have some concerns. Worry regarding explaining gaps in employment, potentially facing discrimination, or having to discuss your history with substance abuse can all be barriers you perceive. While these seem like valid concerns, there are millions of other people who have similar experiences that have gone on to lead successful lives with great careers. Your history with substance abuse does not have to hinder your ability to achieve your goals and there are several ways you can set yourself up for success before you even begin your search.
What Types of Jobs are Best for Recovering Addicts?
Before you begin searching for jobs, it is a good idea to narrow down the options by considering some things such as:
- What skills do you have that make you a valuable asset?
- What do you see yourself doing in five to ten years?
- What have you liked/disliked about previous jobs?
You may be tempted to apply for any job listing you come across, but you should have a list of criteria for what makes a job ideal. For instance, working in an environment such as a restaurant may not be the best choice for someone following recovery. Exposure to alcohol, stress, and sometimes unstructured scheduling can make for a trigger-filled environment that may put you at risk for relapse. Instead, finding a job with clear and reasonable expectations, structured responsibilities that minimize high-stress or tight deadlines, and plenty of growth opportunities to motivate you.
Depending on your history, such as if you have a criminal record, you may not be required to disclose information about your recovery unless you want to. While it may seem like personal information to share, in many cases, sharing this information upfront can help an employer work with you to ensure they can help support your recovery as well. It is completely up to your own discretion how you would like to handle it.
Some popular paths people follow after treatment include:
- Continuing Education: Reenrolling in school and obtaining degrees or certifications can help you develop skills to support yourself in a new role. In addition, it provides clear, concise structure, and gives you ample room to explore your interests and develop your passion.
- Trade/Vocational Schools: Many look for careers that challenge them, keep their hands busy, and provide structure. Vocational schools are a great way to secure a good job with dependable income. Working as a mechanic, electrician, locksmith, or even in the IT field is great for those in recovery because it provides numerous opportunities to explore new interests, develop into new roles, and try new things.
- Counseling: In treatment, many build incredibly meaningful relationships with counselors and staff throughout the recovery process. As a person who has been through recovery, entering the field of substance abuse counseling can provide you with a unique perspective and ability to connect with others in treatment.
Recovering Addicts Becoming Counselors
Many who complete treatment are inspired by their counselors to follow in their footsteps and become part of the recovery process. Over time, the role of substance use counselor has become increasingly popular with those who have completed treatment due to the opportunity it provides to both stay connected with the sober community and give back to others who share similar experiences.
Pros of Recovering Addicts Becoming Counselors
- You have a unique understanding of the recovery process and can provide relatable insight
- You are able to form more meaningful connections with clients in a shorter period of time due to your ability to relate to their experiences
- You are better equipped to identify behaviors or signs of distress, relapse, and other warning signs of an impending crisis
- You are able to stay connected with the sober community and other resources
Cons of Recovering Addicts Becoming Counselors
- The workload is heavy and may become stressful, putting stress on your own sobriety
- The job of a substance use counselor requires working odd hours to address things as they come up and the lack of a predictable schedule can be difficult to manage, especially when trying to balance your own recovery needs as well
- You are exposed to triggers through interactions with clients making it critical for you to be strong in your sobriety
Learn more about the skills and characteristics needed to be a good substance use counselor.
How to Become a Substance Use Counselor While in Recovery
Sober College School of Addiction Studies offers NAADAC and IC&RC approved substance use counselor training that can be completed in as little as 3 months. With self-paced online options or in-person classes, you can begin training in the field of substance abuse counseling at any time. Although some requirements do vary from state-to-state, Sober College’s Addiction Studies program has the ability to adapt the curriculum to meet the changing needs of students. The level of certification or degree required and the number of supervised hours in the field are just some of the requirements that vary depending on where you practice. Be sure to determine where you plan to work prior to starting the program to ensure you meet the necessary requirements.
Should a Recovering Addict Disclose to a Client that They are in Recovery Themselves?
One of the most difficult questions you will face is whether or not to disclose that you are in recovery or ever have been. While in some cases, self-disclosure may seem like an easy way to bridge gaps and connect with clients, there can also be cases in which disclosing your recovery status may hinder progress with a client as well.
In some cases, disclosing your recovery status can make it easier to guide someone through the process. The idea of having “been there, done that” can create a connection that allows clients to become more transparent in sessions and accept guidance from someone who intimately understands the experience of addiction and recovery. In other cases, however, it is possible that disclosure can affect the way a client perceives the level of care they receive in treatment and may discount its worth.
Overall, there is no simple “yes” or “no” answer to this question. Instead, it is up to you to use your best judgment and determine the purpose disclosure would serve in your interactions with clients. If self-disclosure is done in an effort to help the client, then it is generally viewed as acceptable, while self-disclosure as a means of expediting a connection or trust that has not formed yet is generally frowned upon.
In Recovery and Looking to Become a Counselor?
There are many factors to consider when looking at starting a career following recovery. Assessing what it is you want for yourself and what fits a healthy lifestyle for you best is critical in making a decision. If staying involved in the recovery community and working with others to achieve sobriety is your goal, check out our program to learn how to become a substance use counselor, or contact us with any questions.