The Best Careers for People in Recovery

August 19, 2022

5 mins

Dane O'Leary


5 mins Over the course of recovery, people often pick up certain skills and traits. Do any of them make you a good fit for certain career paths? In other words, what are the best careers for people in recovery from addiction?

While it is good to take care of your mental health, sometimes the lack of structure can be detrimental, particularly for those in recovery. This aimlessness and missing sense of purpose can be mitigated by the right employment. Having a job that you can actually look forward to each day can have huge effects on your self-esteem and well being. 

If you are looking for careers for recovery, then let’s start with the best news of all: There are plenty of options available. Looking for a long-term opportunity or new career can be a challenge, but it’s the type of challenge that can really pay off.

Careers for addicts may seem impossible to find, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In fact, there are even careers for recovering addicts where their own experiences in recovery are an advantage. For anyone willing to share their own journeys into sobriety, it is worth making the effort to look.

How to Choose a Career When You're In Recovery

Choosing a career, especially when you’re in recovery from addiction, can be a daunting prospect with many factors to consider. Your progress in recovery, abilities, and needs will continue to be driving forces and affect whichever career you acquire. Having a plan for what you want to do is only half the journey; the next part is seeking the actual job, which takes time and effort.

Furthermore, finding a career comes with its own unique challenges when you’re in recovery. According to a Boston University study of recovering addicts, 20 percent of the participants feared being fired or discriminated against in the workplace. Half of them also expressed concerns about employer attitudes toward addiction, which seems to indicate that others in recovery will encounter roadblocks of their own.

Yet, there will always be jobs out there. Finding the right job is a matter of looking at your specific skills and figuring out which jobs are the right match. If it helps, consider: What do you enjoy? What are you good at doing? 

Having followed the steps to recovery, you would be able to provide others with that same support you received.

Additionally, consider what work will be helpful or harmful to you. This is particularly relevant to individuals in recovery because many of the most common triggers for relapse are linked to being in contact with the substance. Before choosing your path, consider whether there could be careers that could put you on the path to relapse, and then avoid those career tracks.

This is another situation where your own time in recovery may be advantageous. While there are no jobs for which being an addict is a requirement, there are many for which someone with experience in recovery could be more likely to succeed.

Careers Helping Other People in Recovery

A career in recovery may give you the opportunity to assist others through familiar struggles. Someone who has or is undergoing the process of recovery would likely be able to empathize with the challenges that other addicts are facing. Having followed the steps to recovery, you would be able to provide others with that same support you received. In turn, you may find yourself more capable of compassion and empathy for those in need.

Peer-led programs like Alcoholics Anonymous bring different people together in recovery fellowships. In these groups, a member’s success is partly built on his or her ability to help others. The importance of such mutual aid to addiction recovery cannot be overstated.

For example, working as a substance abuse counselor would give you the opportunity to provide support to others in recovery. Counselors develop trust with their patients through therapeutic alliances, helping their clients to feel comfortable discussing their hardships through the lens of shared experiences. In these scenarios, you can help patients recognize problematic behaviors and teach them plans to prevent relapse that have actually worked for you.

Such a career requires expertise and lots of work to attain. However, it could be a good direction in which to find a career while in recovery.

College students in a study hall

Back to School

Certain jobs require specific degrees. This is even the case for a substance abuse counselor. So if you decide on one of these jobs, be aware that it’s very likely you will need to return to school. Although finding a career in recovery is just one of numerous paths in mental health, most other paths require higher education as well. 

In any case, returning to school in order to improve your skills can open many doors. If this seems as daunting as a job search, you’re not wrong. However, getting an education can be a great long-term goal while also giving you more career flexibility down the road.

In fact, one study found that people in recovery who have more education were more likely to be employed. Additionally, their educations allowed for a wider range of employment opportunities, particularly among office-based or non-laborous positions. For this reason, if you don’t have desirable opportunities available currently, then it may be helpful to pursue more education until such a time that it pays off.

Select a Career for Stability

When selecting a career, it is important to keep accessibility and stability in mind. You want a job that’s doable and that will have a positive impact on your mental health. Since employment can help to mitigate someone’s risk of relapse, selecting the right career and sticking with it could be a great help to recovery. 

Of course, your job search should be informed by an honest assessment of your knowledge, skill, and experience levels. This may be common sense, but searching for a job that complements your skills isn’t always as straightforward as it may sound.

Either way, having something that excites you or makes you feel fulfilled each day is important. Never select a career that could do active harm, including harm to your recovery. If you start encountering alcohol more frequently than you’re comfortable with, then maybe it’s time to leave it behind.

Having something to wake up to every day is important.

Search for Accessible Careers

Whatever path you take, it is important to stay busy. Employment can be both a way to fill your time and a means to make a living. There are obvious benefits to staying on that road.

Consistent employment also has benefits. Even if you find yourself with a career that doesn’t excite you, there could be reasons to persist. A study conducted in Slovenia found that full-time employment is an important milestone for rehabilitation, granting greater social security and safety. Having a career will be more beneficial in the long run, enabling recovery in a more constructive environment.

In fact, individuals in recovery who attain employment have a lower risk of relapse than those who are unemployed. If possible, having a fallback job for those unexpected situations can be a great add-on to your relapse prevention plan. Naturally, we’re all constantly on the lookout for the perfect dream job. Instead, let’s focus more on stability and allow more fulfilling opportunities to reveal themselves over time. 

Stay Employed and Healthy with Never Alone Recovery

Selecting a career is only half the battle. Once you find stable employment, it is important to stay healthy so you can maintain it. The job itself can be a huge help with this, as recovery is a process that requires care. A stable career may help, but other steps can be taken to achieve or maintain your sobriety.

If you are wondering how to choose a drug rehab, Never Alone Recovery offers invaluable help. With state-of-the-art alcohol rehabs in Indiana, we can provide you with the tools to recover. Call our toll-free number to find out what assistance is available to you.

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