Personal Growth


man using computer

Job hunting is never an easy process, but people in recovery face some distinct challenges. From the need for a flexible schedule to explaining a spotty work history, landing a new position while in recovery will require careful planning and preparation.

Daniel Krasner, Summit Behavioral Healthcare’s Assistant Vice President of National Business Development, has a unique perspective on the post-recovery job search. He launched his own successful career after receiving addiction treatment and has helped fill multiple marketing and sales-related positions.

Recently, Krasner volunteered to share some advice for job seekers in recovery.

1. Don’t Share Too Early in the Process
Krasner believes your recovery shouldn’t be mentioned in your resume or cover letter. Employers only need information that’s relevant to your ability to perform specific job duties.

“I look at addiction as a disease, like diabetes,” Krasner said. “Just as you wouldn’t immediately tell a potential employer that you’re a diabetic, you don’t need to mention that you’re in recovery until an offer is on the table. It’s not necessarily something you need to share until it becomes relevant to the job at hand.”

2. Decide How Much You’re Comfortable Disclosing
Seeking addiction treatment is nothing to be ashamed of, but people in recovery have different levels of comfort when discussing their sobriety with others. To a large extent, how much you share is a matter of personal preference.

“Everyone is different as far as their willingness to disclose,” Krasner said. “You can come right out and say you were in recovery or you can simply say you had a medical issue that needed to be addressed. If you’re still in treatment or at a halfway house, you might need to provide more detail than someone with a few years of sobriety simply because you might need to leave early for meetings. If you’ve been sober for several years and it won’t affect your job performance, a full disclosure is less important.”

3. Be Honest
Wanting to protect your privacy is understandable, but it’s vitally important that you tell the truth when asked. Although a potential employer isn’t entitled to know every detail about your addiction treatment, the issue becomes relevant if you have a criminal record from your addiction or were terminated for addiction-related performance issues. Lying about your background will lead to automatic termination for most employers, regardless of whether you’re fudging your educational credentials or omitting the fact that you have a DUI and a possession charge on your record.

Owning up to your past isn’t easy, but Krasner points out that the best way to get a job is to help an employer see that you have the maturity to use past mistakes as an opportunity for growth. “You have to go into the process assuming that they will call your past employer and conduct a background check,” Krasner said. “Be honest about the mistakes that you’ve made, but show that you’ve changed since then.”

If you’re worried that you’ll get tongue-tied when asked about a specific issue on your resume, write up a detailed response beforehand and practice it with a friend or your sponsor. “God didn’t carry you this far to see you fall,” Krasner said. “Lean on your support network and practice your interviewing skills to calm your nerves and boost your confidence.”

4. Be Open to Feedback
Rejection is unfortunately part of the job search. This can be hard for someone in recovery, as it may trigger feelings of being not good enough or unworthy of success. However, successful job seekers are those who can turn rejection into a new opportunity.

“If you’re getting interviews but no job offers, ask for feedback on areas you need to improve,” Krasner said. “You may also want to take a deep hard look at your resume. To be effective, it needs to portray your background honestly but positively and be targeted towards the specific job position.”

5. Be Willing to Start Small
When it comes to your post-recovery career, you can’t expect to land your dream job immediately. Change takes time, so patience is a virtue. Treat your job search like a full-time job, be strategic, and stay confident in the belief that you’ll eventually find a position that’s right for you.

“It’s always easier to get a job if you already have a job,” Krasner said. “You may have to humble yourself somewhat to get your foot in the door, especially if your professional reputation suffered due to your addiction. This is a consequence of the choices you’ve made. Take what you can get, but use the opportunity as a steppingstone to something better.”

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website.

quit smokingAccording to the CDC, about 15 percent of adults in the United States are smokers. However, smoking rates are significantly higher among people who are also struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

If you’re considering seeking treatment, you may find yourself wondering if it’s best to quit smoking while you’re in rehab or if you should concentrate on beating one addiction at a time. The answer to this question depends on several different factors, including your own personal recovery preference.

The Link Between Smoking and Recovery

Long term tobacco use can cause a wide range of health problems, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and heart disease. However, the health benefits of quitting smoking can be seen almost immediately. For example, your heart rate and blood pressure will be back to normal within two hours. Within two to three weeks, your blood circulation and lung function should improve enough that exercising or engaging in physically strenuous activity will be noticeably easier.

The traditional thinking was that quitting smoking could threaten sobriety by increasing the intensity of a recovering substance abuser’s cravings for drugs and alcohol. Today, we know this is simply not true. Quitting smoking will not threaten your recovery and may even be beneficial if you’re suffering from alcoholism and strongly associate drinking with smoking cigarettes.

Since nicotine is an addictive substance, the process of quitting smoking is much like conquering alcohol or drug addiction. Use of nicotine replacement therapy via patch, gum, inhaler, or nasal spray can help keep your nicotine cravings under control. The same coping techniques you learn in recovery to handle cravings for drugs or alcohol can also be used to manage nicotine withdrawal.

Stress Relief and Addiction Recovery

For many people, smoking cigarettes is seen as a way to cope with stress. While it’s true that the experience of getting sober can be stressful, this doesn’t mean that you can’t quit smoking if you wish to do so. To some extent, stress will always be a part of your life. Even when you’re sober, you’ll be dealing with stress in your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers or supervisors.

Quitting smoking while in rehab may give you a chance to come up with healthier ways to handle stressful feelings, such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, listening to music, or writing about your feelings in a journal. This experience will leave you feeling more confident and in control of your sobriety after your time at the treatment center has passed.

Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking

Nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant, which is why fear of gaining weight is common among people who are interested in quitting smoking. However, this fear is misguided. The vast majority of people who quit smoking gain no more than five to 10 pounds.

If you’re currently malnourished due to your drug or alcohol addiction, gaining a small amount of weight may be beneficial. If you are already at the right weight for your frame, making a point to exercise regularly and avoid overindulging in sweets or processed foods can help prevent any weight gain related to quitting smoking. Experts agree that fear of weight gain shouldn’t be a deciding factor in whether or not you attempt to quit smoking while in recovery.

Quitting Is a Process

If you’ve tried to quit smoking unsuccessfully in the past, you may think it’s not worth the effort to try again. However, quitting smoking is often a process that requires several attempts to be successful.

A study recently published in BMJ Open suggests that it can take up to 30 attempts for smokers to go for one full year without cigarettes. Often, what works best is when a smoker has a powerful and personal reason to want to quit. Seeking treatment for your alcohol or drug addiction and making the decision to begin a fresh chapter in your life may be the mental “push” you need to kick the habit for good.

Choosing the Approach that Works Best for You

There is no one size fits all treatment approach for addiction. If you desire an opportunity to make a completely fresh start, St. Joseph Institute can help you quit smoking at the same time you address your alcohol or drug addiction. However, if you would prefer to focus on overcoming one addiction at a time, our counselors can help you develop a treatment plan that works for your unique needs.

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website.

By: Aspen Stoddard/staff writer

After more than a decade of using substances to avoid my “self,” one of the hardest parts of transitioning into sobriety was learning new tactics for dealing with the cycle of anxious thoughts spinning constantly in my mind.

Sure, I understood the idea of living one day at a time, but the fear of having to sustain this thought-battle in my mind permanently taunted me. How would I ever get through? It was right around this time period that my therapist suggested meditation.

“Have you ever tried?” she asked. I had not. I started to get a little angry: I needed real help. Being inside my mind was part of the problem.

“It works for me,” she said. “I find I have more energy afterward.”

I tried not to laugh. I imagined myself sitting cross-legged on some maroon rug trying to keep my eyes shut. I wouldn’t last ten seconds. My thoughts churned inside my head like hurricanes. There was no way I would be able to quiet my mind. In fact, I believed trying to sit still would only make the thoughts worse. I also thought that meditation was a practice that one needed to grow up with in order to efficiently perform. I’m a small-town girl who has experience in self-destruction. What did I know about meditating?

So instead of taking my friend’s advice, I returned to the chaos of my mind and continued struggling within the way I had grown used to.

After a few weeks, and at a point where I was feeling worn out and on the verge of running back toward drugs to ease my mind, the idea of meditation returned to me. I decided to give it a shot. I began with guided meditations, which allowed me to listen to someone tell a story.

If you have ever listened to a guided meditation, then you can probably imagine the soothing voice suggesting: find a place to sit down. You can choose a soft pillow or a cushioned-chair. Just find a place to sit down and be comfortable and then close your eyes. Concentrate on the cool air streaming through your nose. Just stay right there. Breathe. Think only of the flow of oxygen moving in and out. Allow thoughts to enter and exit your mind without attempting to interpret them. In other words, relax. Allow yourself to be.

I sat with my eyes pinched closed, my body taut with tension, and a voice in my head telling me that it was time to relax (not telling—more on the verge of panicking). I could only think about how I didn’t know what I was doing.

But then slowly something strange happened. After about five minutes into the session, I was suddenly only aware of the muscles in my body and the woman’s voice who was guiding me. I felt the circuit of energy moving in waves through me. When I finally opened my eyes, tears streamed down my cheeks. Not so much because I had an out-of-this-world spiritual experience (though, that would come later after more practice) but because of the relief my brain felt. I had, if only for that short moment, escaped from my anxious thoughts.

I escaped without poisoning my body.

One of the common misconceptions about meditation is that you must force your mind to empty. The reality is quite the opposite. Rather than forcing the mind to be silent, meditation asks that you allow thoughts to freely flow without judging them. For the addict in recovery, I think this is one of the most essential terms-—judgement. As addicts in recovery, we are professionals at judging ourselves. We are not so expert at acceptance. Meditation allowed me to begin to forgive myself for hurting myself and others. Through a steady practice of meditation, I could allow those thoughts to enter my mind and let them pass.

It has been a few years now since I started practicing meditation. I find that I am more stable when I am practicing. When I get off track and start skipping sessions, I feel myself spiraling. Meditation forces me to sit with myself, to be aware of my awareness, to allow a maelstrom of thoughts to appear and disappear without trying to over-analyze them.

But don’t just take my word for it; in a recent study by Harvard in 2011, researchers found that an eight-week program of meditative practice changes the gray matter in the brain, the region that controls stress, memory, empathy, and our sense of self.

Again, keep in mind that meditation works best as a daily practice. It’s best to find a way to incorporate meditation as part of your lifestyle than to see it as time-absorbing exercise. You don’t need a lot of time. In fact, I started with just ten minutes a day.

Check out these websites for a variety of specified guided meditations:

 

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

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