It can be quite challenging to return to mainstream workforce after being in chemical dependency treatment. This can be particularly true if you have a history of felonies and criminal activity because of your addiction. However, you should know that there are a handful of resources that specifically strive to assist recovering addicts with a criminal record in returning to work.

Even if you do not have a criminal record, returning to work can sometimes still be difficult. Often part of the downward spiral of addiction is the loss of a job or the inability to work due to physical, emotional, and psychological impairments. In fact, researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore performed a study exploring the presence of alcohol use disorders and work trajectory. Part of the study investigated whether men and women were drinking more than intended, made unsuccessful attempts to cut down on drinking, and whether they participated in any chemical dependency treatment programs. As to be expected, lower work trajectory was linked to a higher rate of alcohol addiction disorders. This was true both at the beginning of the study as well as during the follow-up with participants of the study.  Furthermore, career advances were associated with decreased alcohol addiction disorder rates for both men and women.

The results revealed that alcohol addiction disorders were initially present in about 15 percent of men and 7.5 percent of women. However, the relationship between the presence of addiction disorders and a downward career trajectory was stronger for women. The research confirmed that the presence of alcohol use and dependency for women can affect their career path.

Regardless of gender, however, one’s work trajectory seems to be significantly impaired by the presence of addiction. If you were once heavily involved in the workforce and then had to leave because of drinking or drug use, returning to holding a job might be intimidating. Although you might not have any clear obstacles to getting a job, such as a history of criminal activity, you might have some internal barriers, such as not feeling confident, unsure about your place in the workforce, or fear about how to get along with others who are not recovery oriented.

At the same time, it can be an exciting opportunity to return to the workplace. This can be rewarding in many ways, including the chance for you to review your particular skills and the opportunity to feel a part of a community. Although some mental health practitioners, or your drug counselor, might indicate that work can add stress to your life, sometimes the opposite is true. Work can also be fulfilling, meaningful, and even healing.

The National Association of State Mental Health Directors once made a list of the reasons why one should return to work. Of course, when the time is right for someone who is in recovery.

–Working is healing
–Working focuses on our abilities, not our limitations.
–Working improves our self-concept by overcoming the feeling we are unworthy or useless.
–Working moves us into challenging relationships with other that help us grow.
–Working moves us toward self-actualization, meaning that it can add to a process of becoming the best we can be.

If you’re interested in getting a job again, below are two resources that specifically assist those in recovery and/or with a criminal history:

America in Recovery

America in Recovery is a non-profit organization that helps those with alcohol and drug abuse as well as people with felony convictions get hired. This is a hiring web site matching job seekers with employers directly.

National H.I.R.E. Network

The National H.I.R.E. Network helps those with criminal records reenter the workforce by facilitating their employment. The site acts as an information clearinghouse. They also provide leadership on public policy to promote the employment of people with criminal records.

Certainly, getting hired after drug use, drinking, and/or criminal activity can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right support you can return to the workforce and have a meaningful and fulfilling job or career.

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