The Role Of Work And Finances In Recovery

January 15th, 2018 | By Allaire Kirk

Finding a job after attending an inpatient treatment program is often a top priority for those in recovery. It’s essential not only because work provides an income, but because feeling productive can have a positive effect on your recovery.

“We know that work and our ability to be productive and to contribute meaningfully to our lives and society is a huge part of success in recovery,” starts Dr. Brooks, the Chief People Officer at Addiction Campuses.

Despite this, Dr. Brooks finds that work and finances still tend to be some of the most challenging parts of addiction recovery. “People struggle with, ‘How am I going to make ends meet?’, ‘How am I going to pay my bills?’ and, ‘How am I going to meet the financial obligations I have?’” he explains. “This creates fear and uncertainty that could lead to relapse.”

With so many directions your life can take after treatment, don’t let sobriety get in the way of your professional and financial aspirations. Instead, let them play an active role in your journey of recovery.

Finding A Job After Addiction Treatment

While finding a job may be an essential part of the recovery process, Dr. Brooks understands that re-entering the workforce after battling addiction can be a daunting task.

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“Oftentimes, folks that struggle with addiction have had a hard time keeping a job. They may have been terminated from a job for their drug or alcohol use in the past, and they have an employment history that looks problematic to potential employers,” he explains briefly.

With these past struggles in mind, Dr. Brooks offers some tips for job-seekers in recovery:

  1. Build a resume: “This the practical side of finding a job after treatment,” says Dr. Brooks. “It’s vital that your resume shows that even if there have been some challenges in your past employment, you’re willing to work past those and present a compelling self-marketing piece to future employers.”
  2.  Identify what type of job will be best for you: To feel fulfilled in recovery, Dr. Brooks emphasizes that “you have to find a job that’s going to be a great fit for you.” This means evaluating past jobs to understand what worked and what didn’t in order to pursue a career that’s going to make a positive difference in your life. For Dr. Brooks, envisioning a clear career path can be the most critical part of the job searching process. “You have to be very intentional in your career path after treatment,” he starts. “Finding a job that best fits your new lifestyle is often the key to building a strong foundation for both work and finance in recovery.”
  3. Be positive: Past career mistakes can often haunt your future job prospects. “Those with addiction often struggle with the idea that they weren’t able to hold a job in the past, and in many ways, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Dr. Brooks begins. “When you start to feel those negative thought processes impacting your job search, just remember how far you’ve come.”

If your job search starts to make you feel anxious or stressed, Dr. Brooks recommends reaching out to your support system for comfort and advice. “The worst thing you can do when you start to get down on yourself is isolate yourself,” he mentions.

With an estimated 23.5 million people currently living successfully in recovery, there are plenty of jobs that will support your new, sober lifestyle.

Money Management In Addiction Recovery

“The reality is that financial problems don’t happen overnight, and a solution to them doesn’t happen overnight,” stresses Dr. Brooks.  

After spending most, if not all, of your money on funding your addiction, it’s essential that you regain control of your finances in recovery- even if it takes some time.

However, after years of making the wrong decisions with your money, it can be difficult to start making the right ones. This is especially true if you’re just coming out of treatment and don’t have a lot of money to work with.

Dr. Brooks understands that this is the situation many people coming out of treatment often find themselves in. “When you come out of treatment and start to build your new budget, you have to be able to prioritize your expenses into what is critical, what is a need and what is a want,” he stresses.

While he notes that food, water, shelter and clothes often fall into the critical category, Dr. Brooks sees significant variances in the remaining two groups. Due to this, it’s crucial that you set aside time to identify which expenses fall into each category. Doing so will help you build a budget that fits your life and your needs correctly.

“What we want those in recovery to think about when they’re building a budget is what is truly essential at this point in their lives,” starts Dr. Brooks. “It doesn’t mean that their wants won’t happen in the future, but let’s take the first steps and make great financial decisions knowing that they’re going to open up opportunities for more of those wants down the road,” he concludes.

For many coming out of treatment, recovery will be the first time they have to learn how to manage their finances or create a career path. The fear of taking on new challenges often places work and finances among the top relapse triggers.

However, regaining control of your finances and being proactive about following a career you’re passionate about puts you in charge of your new life. With the right mindset, you’ll find that work and finances can be powerful tools for your recovery.

“In my work, I often see those in recovery get tied down by believing that they have to have everything figured out today,” Dr. Brooks explains. “The reality is, you don’t have to have it all figured out right this minute- just take the next step.”

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