One of the major challenges many people face in early recovery is the process of trying to find a job after treatment. This process can be complicated by many factors, like gaps in one’s resume, legal records, and court dates, and the emotional and mental difficulty of readjusting to normal daily life. But it’s also extremely important- employment is one of the ways many recovering addicts and alcoholics begin to rebuild their lives and find a way to be responsible and productive members of society. Recently, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced plans to sign a new bill into law that would make it easier for recovering addicts and alcoholics to gain employment after they complete addiction treatment.

Challenges of Trying to Find a Job in Early Recovery

There are several reasons why trying to find a job in early recovery can be difficult for many people. Some of the unique challenges of finding employment after a period of time spent in treatment include:

  • Gaps in work experience or resume due to active addiction or time spent in treatment, which can be tough or awkward to explain to potential employers
  • Commitments to IOP or therapy that can limit one’s weekly availability
  • Emotional and mental issues (common in early recovery) that can cause stress and make the job search process seem difficult or even impossible
  • Low self-esteem and lack of confidence, which makes applying and interviewing harder
  • Legal issues that can limit job prospects or make a candidate unappealing to potential employers
  • The pressure of financial strain and difficulty (usually cause in part by active addiction), which adds to the stress and urgency of trying to find a job

For people who are rebuilding their lives after a period of time spent in active addiction and/or alcoholism, trying to find a job is tough. However, it’s also a necessary part of recovery- as we begin to get pieces of our lives back, most of us need to go back to work and begin taking care of responsibilities that were often neglected during drug and alcohol addiction.

“Ban the Box” and Potential New Laws

One of the problems with trying to find a job in recovery is that many people get into legal trouble during their active addiction or alcoholism. Arrests for DUIs, drug possession, and theft/fraud are common consequences of using and drinking. In 2015, Governor Christie signed a bill called a “ban the box” law. Prior to the passage of this law, many employers included a section on applications that asked potential new hires to check a box indicating whether or not they had been convicted of a crime in their past. For many people, checking this box meant disclosing legal trouble and arrests, which could prevent them from being hired by many potential employers. The “ban the box” law made it illegal for employers to ask about prior convictions, and may have made it easier for many people to get hired after turning their lives around.

According to an article on NJ.com, Governor Christie is looking to sign a new law that would make the process of trying to find a job easier for recovering addicts and alcoholics. This new employment protection law would expunge the records of people who had successfully completed addiction treatment. It would apply to lower-level, nonviolent offenders. For example, if someone had been arrested for drug possession, they could potentially have their records sealed and protected after finishing treatment. This would make it easier for people in recovery to protect themselves from losing out on employment opportunities due to past mistakes and convictions.

Rebuilding a Life After Addiction Treatment

Trying to find a job with a legal record is tough. For people who have decided to get clean and sober and take a new approach to life, employment is necessary but often hard to come by. This potential new law could remove some of the obstacles many recovering addicts and alcoholics face during a job hunt. Ultimately, it could help many people rebuild the life they may have destroyed during their addiction.

At the Discovery Institute, we provide addiction treatment for people suffering from substance dependence. In order to truly help clients rebuild their lives, we also provide aftercare services to assist clients with resisting relapse, finding employment, and adjusting to a normal daily routine after getting the care they need. If you need comprehensive care to fight addiction and live sober, call us today at 888-616-7177 for information on our treatment programs.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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