The Challenges of Seeking Employment with a Substance Abuse History
Many of us in early recovery wonder just how much to disclose to potential employers. As recovering addicts and alcoholics we can have such colorful pasts, and some of the information that is asked of us is difficult to weed through. If we have really experienced our addictions, we might have gotten ourselves into some legal trouble. Many of us have found ourselves on the wrong side of a DUI or public intoxication, amongst other legal troubles. Which means we have to face the challenges of seeking employment with a substance abuse history.
When potential employers ask us about our histories, we ponder how much we should disclose, while trying to keep ourselves in the running for that job? Many people say ‘the truth will set us free’. Do we put all our histories on our application and let the cards fall where they may? Or, do we remain a mystery and do such a great job that they will want to keep us forever? The question is always, if they find out afterwards will they hold it against me?
The best course of action is to list any legal troubles with a note for further explanation. The next step is to write out what you are going to say and practice explaining it to a trusted friend. Then you will have a clear explanation ready for your interview. The last thing we want to happen is to get tripped up and appear as though we are hiding something.
It is important to remember that everyone has made mistakes, including your potential employer. They might be able to relate to your struggles and be able to offer some valuable advice. Being relatable and authentic is so much more important than appearing perfect. No one is perfect, and it is silly to try and pull the wool over someone’s eyes, especially when that person has more experience than you do.
If you are having difficulties finding employment, try volunteering a few days a week to obtain experience. Volunteering will give you valuable skills and great character references. It will also help you build your self-esteem. The more self-esteem you possess, the more confident you will appear in your job interviews. Volunteering will help you feel good about yourself in many ways, and good things come to those who give back to their communities.
Volunteering can be a challenge but it affords you many opportunities to learn new things about yourself. Think of it as an adventure and practice putting yourself in a positive mindset. Worst case scenario; think of someone in your life who has a ton of confidence, and ask yourself what they would do. Then practice and try to embody what you think this person might say or do.
Search For Open-Minded Companies
Finally, it’s important that you search out the job opportunities and potential employers who will not discriminate against your addiction history. Research companies that help provide resources to employees with drug and alcohol histories. An employer who educates employees about their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act and lists resources of where they can find help for addiction treatment, support groups or other community groups has their employees’ best interests at heart. No matter your history, you should be able to perform your essential job functions and enjoy the same benefits that are afforded to others.
Don’t let your addiction history hold you back from moving forward. Be transparent, confident and find the job opportunities that will support you on your addiction recovery journey!
About DeAnna Crosby
DeAnna M. Crosby supervises a team of caring, well-trained clinicians who provide continued support throughout a client’s stay at New Method Wellness. With over 20 years of experience working with clients in recovery, Crosby is an associate marriage and family therapist (AMFT), who specializes in maintaining healthy relationships. Her expertise has catapulted her into the spotlight, as she’s been featured on Dr. Phil, Jane Valdez-Mitchell, National Geographic’s Taboo and has been published in Elle Magazine and The Huffington Post.
As a recovering addict, Crosby brings a breadth of personal recovery experience to her clinical leadership and believes a comfortable, structured and supportive environment is an essential part of maintaining long-term sobriety. In addition to her passion for recovery, Crosby is extremely involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). As a current Woman of the Year candidate, Crosby is campaigning to raise funds for LLS blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors.