Rebuilding Your Life After Addiction
Once you have gotten clean and built up a support system to keep you clean, you may be anxious to get back to work and rebuild your life so that you can really thrive.
Rebuilding a life after addiction isn’t easy. Addressing the physical and psychological issues that caused your substance abuse in the first place is an around-the-clock battle in many cases. Combined with the pressure of providing for your needs and those of your family, it can feel like too much to bear. To minimize stress and frustration that could threaten your sobriety, you must be patient, both with the process and with yourself.
Don’t neglect the habits that got you here
Sobriety is your first priority, so you can’t neglect the systems that got you clean in the first place. For instance, if Alcoholics Anonymous was a big factor in helping you recover, keep going to meetings. If you opted for methadone or buprenorphine, you have to keep up with those treatments, often on a daily basis.
If your faith is what got you to a state of recovery, don’t bypass Sunday services and Bible study. Similarly, if your family was your a large part of your process of healing, make sure to stay accountable to them and follow their rules.
Make sure you have identified the underlying cause of your addiction. New research suggests that most addiction is rooted in trauma or despair. It’s important that you have received counseling that enabled you to come to terms with that underlying issue. Therapy may need to be ongoing.
Find a job
By finding employment, many recovering addicts find the structure they need to stay clean and sober. You get up in the morning at a specific time, and you have somewhere you need to be. That’s about half the battle for some people who might otherwise get up in the morning, wondering how to get through the day sober.
Be aware that some companies make a point of hiring recovering addicts. And other companies have a mission to those with disabilities. However, unless you were convicted of a crime while using, you are not obliged to share your experiences of addiction and recovery with an employer.
That said, there might be advantages to pulling back the curtain on your experiences. Some recovered addicts feel, rightly, that recovery and ongoing sobriety are the most heroic achievements of their lives. If you can frame your story as a story of persistence, faith, and achievement, you may move employers with your narrative.
If you choose to maintain your privacy, you will still need to explain any gap in employment of more than six months. “In treatment for a serious health issue” should be enough to satisfy most employers. You can also claim a nervous breakdown.
Benefits of Volunteering
If you are unsuccessful in your job search, consider volunteering. Volunteering gets you out doing something you are passionate about and helps you build a social network that you can then fall back on to find paid employment. Your volunteer coordinator can be a reference. Sometimes the company you volunteer for will hire you as an employee.
Other routes to full-time employment are working part-time or on a temporary basis. Another good pathway back to employment is national service. Americorps, VISTA, and the Peace Corps accept a broad range of talent and have a mission to employ people over 50 and people with disabilities.
Getting your life back may not be easy. But with some creativity and patience, you will do it. Remember you have a lot of options. If you don’t succeed going down one road, try another. And, above all, be patient with the process.