How to Help Sober Living Clients Secure Employment

Wasatch Crest’s Clinical Director Rich McDonald, CMHC, and Uinta Sober Living Director Tyson Allred discuss strategies for preparing clients for employment post-treatment. You can watch their discussion below.

When I completed treatment, I was in this limbo, caught between my old life and my new life, and I wasn’t sure how to navigate it. Securing employment helped to mitigate my feelings of intimidation and provided me with a way to function productively in society. 

For individuals in early recovery, employment can provide a necessary sense of purpose, but the process of finding a job can be daunting. To help our sober living clients feel less daunted by the job-seeking process, we help them set employment goals, create resumes, practice interview skills, and connect with community resources. 

Setting Employment Goals in Early Recovery

When clients arrive at our Uinta sober living residence, they set goals for their new life in recovery, including their employment goals. To establish their employment goals, we discuss what their skills are, what they’re interested in, and what kind of employment they want to pursue in early and long-term recovery. 

Creating a Resume

When I left treatment, I didn’t have a resume, nor did I know how to create one. To help clients develop resumes, I have them create a master list of their past jobs, accomplishments, and skills. From there, I help them choose what elements to include and how to them display properly on their resume. 

Applying for Jobs and Preparing for Interviews

To explain employment gaps when applying for jobs, a strategy that I’ve found effective is to state, “I had medical issues that I’ve since addressed, and I’d like to explain the circumstances in an interview.” To help clients prepare for job interviews, we role-play the interview process with their peers. The group asks tough interview questions to the client in the hot seat, and the group discusses the best ways to respond. 

Transparency during an interview might just lead to securing a job offer. It’s important for individuals in early recovery to remember that most people want to see them succeed. Additionally, almost half of all Americans have been affected by a loved one’s addiction. That being said, the interviewer might be more understanding about a history of substance abuse than one would expect. 

Overcoming Obstacles to Employment After Addiction Treatment

When I first left treatment, I got a job at a greenhouse. I could walk there, and I was grateful for the employment. It was all well and good until I got my first paycheck which didn’t seem to amount to the work that I was doing. I learned that being grateful for an opportunity doesn’t mean you need to be taken advantage of. If I’m not a fit for a job, the employer can fire me. So, if a job isn’t a fit for me, I need the courage to make a change with integrity. You don’t have to be grateful for peanuts. We want to create a life that’s worth staying sober for, not one that makes us feel miserable. 

The Benefits of Employment to Addiction Recovery

Recovery isn’t possible without structure and accountability, which a job with the proper boundaries can help you create. A job provides us with a sense of purpose, puts us on a path to rebuilding, and gives us access to a community. Gaining employment allows individuals in early recovery to learn new skills, interact with new people, and create a new identity in society.  

About the Author

Tyson Allred is the Uinta Sober Living Program Director. A certified peer support specialist, Tyson leads therapeutic groups and works with clients to develop practical life skills. Tyson draws on his recovery experience as a Wasatch Crest graduate and empowers clients to believe that their recovery is possible. Tyson fills his free time outside in the Wasatch Range—trail running, bow hunting, dirt biking, fishing, and camping. He also tries to compete in at least one Spartan Race every year.

About the Author

Rich McDonald, MS, CMHC is Wasatch Crest’s Clinical Director. Rich has created a clinical culture that empowers clients to rewrite their stories and develop meaningful lives. Rich brings over 25 years of leadership experience and ten years working in the recovery community. Leading with respect, accountability, and acceptance, Rich embodies Wasatch Crest’s human-centric treatment approach. He’s passionate about incorporating nature into recovery and is dedicated to helping clients build lives worth staying sober for. Rich is an avid trail runner and has successfully competed in many marathons, ultra marathons, and 100-mile trail races.

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