Employment and Addiction Recovery

employment concerns in recovery

Addiction and employment

When considering consequences of addiction, the realities of employment and career management are serious considerations. Employment and career concerns are important to the addict in recovery regardless of age or past accomplishments. Successful addiction recovery requires a person to deal with all parts of his/her life. It’s important to make a living and fulfill our human need to contribute and create, whether it’s a formal job or it’s raising a family or pursuing some artistic goal.

When a person starts drinking alcohol or using some other drug heavily at an early age, and if that person is in the beginning stage of addiction, the constant impairment of judgment might lead the addict to disregard the importance of clear judgment, skill development, education, employment and career planning. Mind altering substances, including alcohol, can lead someone to believe that they have power over reality, that they’re smart and capable and impervious to consequences. When an addict is faced with consequences the addict usually blames some person, place or thing for the consequence, thus protecting the fantasy world the addict slowly constructs.

Our problem in the 21st century is that good and steady employment that leads to a successful career is hard to find, even if a person keeps a clear head and goes to college. If a person’s operating with impaired judgment under the mistaken belief they’ll figure it out as they go along, then they’re probably not going to fare well in the job market. If a young person with a drinking or drug using problem goes to college, they’ll likely have difficulty succeeding and gaining the knowledge and skills necessary for a job market that demands specialized knowledge, complex skill sets and sharp thinking. Even manufacturing jobs are no longer done by rote. Almost all good jobs require knowledge and skills and a clear mind.

Even an older person whose addiction progressed slowly and who’s been getting along for years at a job that’s no longer demanding has to make employment and career planning a major concern, because employers aren’t hiring on for life like the old auto-maker jobs, or IBM career jobs, or traditional jobs with the railroad companies. Unions are much weaker, and technology’s creating constant change in the job market. Older workers find themselves looking for work in a job market they no longer understand. If the older worker is in recovery from addiction, it makes it even more imperative to manage recovery and remain abstinent, if the person wants to find new work and start a new career if and when the situation arises.

The point is that life and work are becoming evermore demanding, and addiction muddles a person’s mind and eventually kills motivation and drive. It’s a sad and demeaning existence to become dependent on the goodwill of others, or to find yourself broke and jobless with limited options. When a person gets into recovery, they might find themselves in this situation and wonder why they should even try. The answer is that if they don’t try their situation can get much worse, and the reality is that people can start over, learn new skills and gain new knowledge — new days are possible, recovery can happen. But it’s not likely to happen if the addict returns to alcohol or their drug of choice.