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For anyone coming out of a rehabilitation program, finding a new job can be a daunting prospect. Looking for a job is one of the more stressful situations we can face. Add to it the concerns of staying on top of one’s sobriety and mental health after some time recovering, and it’s not hard to get discouraged.
For those looking for ways to support a loved one doing their post-rehab job search, it can also be difficult to know how to help. You want to be supportive without being belligerent or overbearing. Your loved one’s journey is not about you, after all. But how do you help without getting too involved or becoming more of a burden?
Supporting your loved one in finding a new job out of rehab starts with understanding the realities of the situation. There are important factors you should keep in mind that will influence how you help. Then, consider these methods for assisting in the job search without taking it over.
What to Know about Post-Rehab Job Searches
First off, let’s take the time to acknowledge how big a feat it is to complete rehab and start down the path to a healthier life. This is an amazing step, one you should celebrate your loved one for taking. A post-rehab life is one filled with potential, and the job search is just one element of that new potential.
However, it’s important not to put the weight of the world on the shoulders of your loved one. This means having realistic expectations and empathy for their situation. Start by exploring the facts, legal complications, and mental health concerns that can come with finding a new job post-rehab.
First, take a look at the facts. There are protections built into federal laws for those who live with a substance use or mental health disorder that can translate into stress relief for the post-rehab job searcher. However, there are caveats and statistics to consider, as well. Explore the following realities as you frame your expectations for your loved one’s search:
- Employers legally cannot discriminate. Substance and Alcohol Use Disorders (SUD and AUD) are recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Accordingly, it is illegal to refuse to hire or promote an individual based on a history of addiction or substance misuse.
- Drinking or using drugs on the job is not protected. ADA protections don’t mean someone can’t be fired if their employer has reason to believe they are neglecting their sobriety on the job. This means returning to a pre-rehab position may be off the table.
- Relapses happen. Forty to sixty percent of people in recovery relapse, according to the American Addiction Centers. If this happens, don’t lose hope or give up on your loved one. Relapse is often a step toward a more complete recovery.
With these facts laid out, it’s time to consider the legal implications that can stem from a history of substance abuse. Depending on the substance in question and the behavior of the user, there may be a criminal record to consider. This can impact the job search. For instance, the Prison Policy Initiative found that the formerly incarcerated are unemployed at a rate of 27%.
Supporting a loved one in these circumstances often means helping them frame the way they position themselves to employers. Traits like positivity, preparedness, and a readiness to answer difficult questions can all improve a loved one’s chances in a job interview.
Mental Health Concerns
Then, it’s important to keep in mind the mental health accommodations and concerns that may have to be met when finding a new job. Living with a SUD or AUD has its unique set of obstacles, and the right workplace will help your loved one overcome them. Under the ADA, employers have to make reasonable accommodations for these conditions, but it helps to first know one’s rights and plan any requests.
Understand these realities as you look for ways to help your loved one navigate the stresses of finding work post-rehab. The situation certainly isn’t impossible. In fact, there are all sorts of things you can do to help without getting overly involved in the process.
Ways to Support a Loved One in the Job Search
Supporting a loved one in the job search requires strict boundaries. You can be a help without taking over the entire experience. Whether that means assembling useful vocation resources or applying your expertise to a resume review, the key is empowering the job seeker.
These are just a few of the ways you can navigate being a support during this stressful process:
First, you can do the work of gathering resources that will help your loved one find a job that works for them. Fortunately, those who have been through rehab and even those with a criminal background can find plenty of help through vocational programs. These include:
- America in Recovery
- The Department of Labor One Stop Career Center
- The National Skill Coalition
- Local temp agencies and unemployment offices
Next, help your loved one through the interview process. A gap in employment from time spent in rehab may feel like an uncomfortable thing to address. If substance abuse has contributed to a criminal background, even more discomfort may arise in the interview process. Take on the role of interviewer as you sit down with your loved one and help them navigate the processes to get them more comfortable.
Help them maximize their potential in an interview with strategies like
- Following the employer’s lead
- Being honest and open
- Focusing on the positives
Assisting with a Resume
Finally, take the time to help your loved one go over their resume. By making this document look its best, job searchers can better land interviews. However, you shouldn’t write their resume yourself. Instead, offer to review your loved one’s resume and look for areas of improvement. Questions you might ask during this review process include:
- Does the resume look as professional as possible?
- Is the email address professional?
- Is the resume brief and targeted to the job?
These simple tips can be enough to help guide someone into an interview, where your interview practice may then help them land the job. With resources and practice on hand, you’ll empower your loved one for employment that can sustain and fulfill them in their post-rehab life. Then, it’s just a matter of supporting them while they maintain that job.
Supporting Loved Ones with a Job
By exploring the realities of a post-rehab job search, you learn what to expect. From here, you can use these strategies to help someone close to you get back on their feet. As they navigate a job while maintaining sobriety, they must maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid excessive stress. A pet, a self-care trip, social time (away from substances), and consistent exercise routines are all ways to take better care of yourself.
Consider engaging in these activities with your newly-employed loved one. Doing so can help in the recovery process and reduce the stress of working life.