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How to Overcome When Addiction Has Caused You to Lose Your Career 

Back in 2009, I made a decision I would regret for the rest of my life.  I rear-ended another car on my way home from the bar one night, injuring two of its passengers. With that one selfish act, my life turned upside down. My law license was suspended indefinitely and I was immediately fired from my law firm. Months later, I was sentenced to four years in prison, the final blow in a string of consequences all due to alcohol.   

While I was incarcerated, I knew that I’d have to embark on a new career path when I got out, since practicing law was no longer an option. But for some reason, I wasn’t too concerned. After all, I had a law degree and the skills to a land a decent job in another industry.

How Hard Could it be?   

Nearly impossible, I soon realized. 

I hadn’t counted on the fact that being a convicted felon would subject me to endless job discrimination, or that I would spend months submitting dozens of resumes with no response.  I was beginning to find out how difficult finding an employer would be who was willing to dole out second chances.

Discouraged and feeling sorry for myself, I resorted to the one job I knew that wouldn’t discriminate against my criminal background: waiting tables. It wasn’t a position that was commensurate with my education level, but serving others gave me a much-needed dose of humility. It allowed me to reclaim that sense of gratitude I had had while behind bars; teaching me again to be thankful for what I did have, rather than fret over all the things I didn’t.  

Finding a New Career

After almost a year of balancing a serving tray, I came across a job opening that I couldn’t ignore: a business development position at a nonprofit providing re-entry and rehabilitation programs to prisoners.  It would be a nine-to-five that was a perfect fit for me; one where being a convicted felon was actually considered a bonus. A couple of weeks later, my hard work paid off: I found myself in the organization’s main office, reporting for my first day of work.   

Now, almost nine years since I was suspended from practicing law, I’m still in the business development and networking realm, proving that it is possible to find a rewarding career after the one you thought you’d have your entire life doesn’t pan out. Though addiction caused me to lose almost everything, through patience, determination, and grit I was able to overcome those challenges and create a fulfilling professional life after prison that I never thought was possible.    

Additional Reading: What Should I do if my Loved One is Suicidal?

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