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5 Questions to Ask When Finding a Job in Early Recovery

The early days in recovery can feel blissful and exciting – whether you’re newly out of treatment or simply feeling the joys recovery can bring, the clarity and hope of moving forward in your life and rebuilding can help mobilize your next step. One thing you may be most excited about is getting a job or going back to work – your new frame of mind and the lessons you’ve learned in recovery will surely benefit your employer and your work performance.

Your Job Matters

Approximately 80% of people in recovery relapse after the first year. Because of this, you must be strategic, ask yourself wise questions, and choose the job that – above all else – will improve your professional life and strengthen your recovery.

Here are a few things to consider as you weigh your options in early recovery. 

  • What are the hours?

    This might seem like an obvious question (and one that you may know up front), but ask the question again, this time internally. What are the hours – and how does this impact your recovery? If your shift would end at 11 p.m., would it be difficult for you to drive straight home and avoid going out or driving somewhere that would put your recovery at risk? Don’t get nervous or doubt your recovery, rather be wise in your assessment of yourself and unforeseen circumstances that may come your way. Sit down alone, or with a mentor or sponsor, and talk through the times of day that often cause you to feel at risk or triggered to use. How would a job help you in these times? Choose the job that would help you – not hurt you.
  • Where is the job located?

    If the company you’re considering working for is in a part of town that is close to your using friends or past places of use, you may want to look elsewhere. Combining this question with working hours – if you are in a difficult part of town or in a place that would trigger you with past memories – make the hard decision and keep looking. Reject the feeling that you need to hastily accept a job and that another job won’t follow. Hard decisions are often the right decisions – pass up the job if the location would be too taxing on your recovery.

  • What industry are you working in?

    Industry is important. If you are working in the restaurant or entertainment industry, it may be clear how a job might negatively impact your recovery. Late nights, bars, booze, and people having fun and using…it might be difficult not to fall into old thinking patterns, especially in early recovery. Again, call on your wisdom and lessons from treatment, from sponsors, from family and from your intuition – is this the right industry to be working in when you’ve just gotten sober? Make informed and wise decisions with your support network, and listen to the guidance you’re given. Perhaps a job in an industry more supportive of the sober lifestyle will help you as you continue learning and growing in recovery.
  • What stressors could the job bring?

    This will take further analysis – but think it through. On an off day at work, which is inevitable, what are the likely stressors of a particular job? Is the job in customer service? Is the job physical labor? What stressors led you to use in the past? It can be good to challenge yourself and learn to exercise understanding and patience in stressful situations at work, but despite potential benefits, you must determine what workplace stressors would be too great to handle on a day-to-day basis. Pick a job that will make you a better employee and will give you good challenges – the ones that will grow you and challenge you as a professional over time, but not bring you unnecessary stress on a day-to-day basis.
  • How will the job benefit you in the long-run?

    A principle of recovery is taking things one day at a time. But in your career, the principle of “one day at a time” might make more sense when you have a general idea of the benefits the job will bring you as you pursue other goals in recovery – continuing your education, restoring relationships, and working towards a job or career that you love. Even small steps will help – entry level positions in the industry you care about will help you feel connected to a larger purpose and find meaning in the day-to-day work.

You Don’t Have Settle

As you ask yourself these questions, think thoughtfully about the answers. Though you may be searching for a job, and may need to find one quickly, settling for a job that could trivialize your recovery is not the answer.

By taking any job, you may be inherently passing up the right job. Wait for the right job, and make sure it supports recovery and the healthy changes you’ve made in your life. The lessons and goals it will help you accomplish in your career will be seen in the long-run, and you will be grateful for the strength it will add to your recovery.


Image Courtesy of iStock

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