We received effective treatment, triumphed over addiction, reclaimed our life, and got our footing in the world again. But what steps do we take now? It can be so hard to know how to move forward, especially if we want to begin seeking employment, but are unsure how to account for the time that was spent suffering and surviving addiction.
Gaps in resumes, sudden job endings, and lack of recent experience or education can be so discouraging and lead us to believe we won’t be able to join the workforce. But the truth is, there are so many rewarding social service positions for folks with lived experience, where we can use our insight, understanding, and wisdom from our recovery journey to support, guide, and mentor others.
Hospitals, residential treatment and recovery centers, inpatient and outpatient facilities, courthouses, mental health and wellness clinics, and transitional living centers are just some of the organizations that are seeking to employ staff members with a lived experience perspective.
What Positions Are Available, and Where to Get Started
A great way is to be of service. Volunteering is a powerful way to begin the process of re-engaging with local communities, and it provides an opportunity to get connected with work that is fulfilling, meaningful, and truly makes a difference. Get online, and look up places that are seeking volunteers, there are often many food and clothing banks in need of helpers.
Another option is to become a sponsor. Once an individual is feeling strong in their recovery and has worked through the 12-Step program with a sponsor, many folks serve as a sponsor. Being a sponsor is an incredible responsibility, and a beautiful way to support others in the recovery journey with accountability, compassion, and courage.
Many recovery organizations provide peer recovery coaching training. Peer coach training is a several-days-long workshop, where skills in appropriate sharing are practiced and refined, resourcefulness is strengthened, and resiliency is cultivated. Once certification is received, a peer coach is able to meet individuals where they are at in their journey, and offer guidance, support, advocacy and the wisdom from their lived experience.
For those who are wanting to take their experience as a peer coach to the next level, peer support specialist/certified peer counselor training is available. Non-profits and treatment facilities employ peer support specialists to hold a safe space, raise awareness, give insight and information, and co-create healing plans with clients. In order to become a peer support specialist, one must attend a weeklong training and pass both a multiple-choice test and an oral exam. Contact your local health department to find out when the next certified peer counselor training is being offered in your area.
If you want to professionalize your work and move into the field of addiction counseling, you might want to look at substance use disorder professional trainee (SUDPT). In order to become an SUDPT, one needs to enroll and successfully complete an associate’s in addiction studies. Additionally, supervision hours are required, and many organizations hire folks as counselors in training and support them by providing on-site supervision so they can meet the hour requirement.
If social services aren’t right for you, please know that is okay too. It is important to do the work that is right for you. Take time to explore other interests, training programs, educational opportunities, or trade schools. Many community centers have career or vocation specialists that can help you get on the road to finding the best position for you.
Tips to Trying New Things
If a job that you applied for doesn’t work out, take time to fully feel your disappointment, take some deep breaths, and try your best to let it go. And then keep going.
During conversations with a potential employer, sharing what you experienced is an option as well. You can briefly speak to your struggle, the treatment and healing work you have committed to, how you have changed, and where you want to go in life. Many people understand the importance of second chances, as almost all of us have asked for a second chance.
Stay in a place of empowerment to the best of your ability. Try not to let insecurities or shame get you down or cause you to give up or abandon a dream. Even if it will take some time, or a substantial number of steps to accomplish your goal, keep going. See it as a powerful opportunity to ask for help, seek out a mentor, or establish support systems to keep you going towards what you want.
Remind yourself how strong you are, how far you have come. Draw upon the courage and confidence that has carried you to this point. There is a position out there that is the perfect fit for your skills and talents, and if you hold on, you will find it. Believe in yourself, and do not give up hope.
Are you wanting to share your gifts, talents, and wisdom with the world, but substance use is getting in the way of you moving forward? Are you passionate about the idea of serving others who have had similar experiences to you? Have you always been a helper?
If your heart and your mind are saying yes, contact us at Ashley Addiction Treatment, a residential treatment facility, located in Northern Maryland. We provide life skills classes, individual and family counseling, and recreational therapy to support you as you work to heal and uncover what you are truly passionate about. Our committed and safe staff will be by your side every step of the way. You deserve to live a confident and joyful life, with a strong recovery, meaningful work, and peace in your mind, heart, and spirit.
For more information, or to take the next steps, contact us at 800-799-4673.