Entries tagged with “Work and Addiction”.


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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.


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Taking Time Off Work to Attend Rehab

One of the most common fears people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction have is how to seek treatment without putting their job at risk. While this issue does need to be handled carefully, evidence suggests that seeking treatment is much more likely to provide a boost to your career as opposed to simply ignoring your substance abuse problem. When you’re sober, you’re free to focus your attention on achieving your career goals instead of dealing with the effects of your addiction.

Sharing Sensitive Information with Your Employer and Coworkers
How you choose to handle explaining the reason behind your absence is entirely up to you. Some people decide to be totally forthcoming about their need to seek treatment, while others keep the information strictly on a need-to-know basis.

If you work in a close-knit environment, your supervisor and coworkers may already suspect that you need help based on their observations. If so, they’re likely to be supportive of the efforts you’re making in taking control of your addiction. Even though it can be scary to admit vulnerability, being upfront about your need to seek treatment can be seen as a sign of your integrity and honesty, as well as your commitment to your employer. As an added benefit, your supervisor may be able to connect you to additional resources through the company’s Employee Assistance Program.

Seeking addiction treatment is nothing to be ashamed of, but keeping your decision confidential might be in your best interests if you don’t feel your colleagues will be supportive. If you’re worried about protecting your privacy, you can work with the human resources department directly to minimize the number of people who know the reason for your absence. A doctor’s note explaining the reason for your absence may be required, but your doctor is ethically bound to protect your privacy. All he or she needs to do is certify that your need for time off work is due to a legitimate medical condition. Others who don’t need to know this confidential information can simply be told you’re taking a leave of absence to attend to some personal matters or that you’re using accrued vacation time.

Legal Protections for People Seeking Addiction Treatment
While absence from work due to substance use doesn’t qualify for legal protection, seeking addiction treatment is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Taking leave under FMLA allows you to request an unpaid leave of absence of up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. Employers are not allowed to terminate a worker simply because he or she has requested FMLA leave for a qualifying condition.

There are specific requirements you must meet to take advantage of FMLA. You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, have worked for a minimum of 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and be employed at a location with at least 50 workers employed by the company within 75 miles.

If your employer violates the FMLA, you can seek legal action. A settlement may include compensation for lost wages, loss of future earning potential, and any applicable liquidated damages.

Alcohol and drug addiction are also considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Current substance abuse isn’t protected, but employers must provide reasonable accommodations if you’re sober and in a recognized treatment program. This often includes flexible scheduling, with options such as leaving early, working from home, being allowed to refuse overtime to attend counselling or support group meetings, and taking an unpaid leave of absence.

If your employer violates the ADA, you can file a federal suit. You won’t receive monetary damages, but your employer can be ordered to make the necessary accommodations to be in compliance.

Concerns Related to Performance Issues
If your employer has a drug and alcohol use policy in place that was clearly communicated to all employees and is consistently enforced, you can be terminated if there is proof you violated the policy. Your employer can also terminate your position for performance issues related to your drug and alcohol use. This might include:

  • Being late to work
  • Missing too much work
  • Inappropriate behavior towards coworkers or clients
  • Ignoring safety precautions or causing accidents
  • Mishandling sensitive information
  • Theft or misuse of company resources

If there is concrete proof of performance issues, it legally doesn’t matter what the cause of the issue is. For this reason, it’s in your best interests to seek addiction treatment before your drug or alcohol misuse starts affecting your job performance.

By Dana Hinders


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Michelle didn’t seem to take her job too seriously; she was usually 5-10 minutes late, took an excessive amount of breaks and often called in sick, all without remorse. However, she was clearly one of the best saleswomen in the region. Her convivial way with shoppers carried over to managers, to whom she promised she would never show up late again or simply that she would make up for all of her break through record sales. Unfortunately, her tardiness continued and eventually her skills began to deteriorate.

Employee stressed about telling boss he's an addictOne day, Michelle was on one of her many breaks when a coworker came running out and asked, “Where did that lady go who you were helping?” Michelle sat silent and confused for a second, then realized she had brought her to a cash register… and left her there, too focused on her cigarette to remember to ring her up. Turns out that lady had walked out; annoyed with the poor service she had received. And she took her unpaid clothes with her – a hand bag, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 nice tops and 2 pairs of earrings valued at $1035. Michelle was interrogated by her boss and forced to take a mandatory drug test. Her immediate termination was based on the cocaine found in her system, and she was forced to forfeit her final paycheck along with an additional $400 to make up for her drug induced mistake.

The US Department of Labor supplies the following incredible statistics to business owners and managers as a warning:

  • Employees with drug & alcohol problems are 25-30% less productive than others
  • They miss work 3 times as often as their non-abusing coworkers
  • 65% of all work-related incidents are caused by those using
  • Not only does this add stress to the workplace, but it also adds $100 billion in costs to the economy every year

Obviously, businesses cannot afford to ignore the signs of addiction, even when they think there are no other options. So how can owner and managers spot an addict? Here are a few common signs we look for:

  • General inconsistency (effort, showing up, attitude, etc.)
  • Lack of punctuality and excessive nonappearances
  • Lots of breaks throughout the day
  • Judgment mistakes and calculation errors
  • Difficulty remembering requests and concentrating on tasks
  • Anxiety, moodiness, excessive energy or lack of energy, and quick to anger

As a business owner or manager, try not to avoid confronting employees for displaying these signs. Far too often this is done and leads to unnecessary incidents in the workplace. Sometimes it is blamed on personal problems, issues at home or personality traits, when illegal and dangerous substances more often cause it. Addiction cannot go unnoticed.

An easy solution is to implement a company policy to require random drug tests. Inform managers to be on the lookout for the common signs of addiction listed above. It may even be necessary to refer suspicious employees to the HR department or an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for an assessment and list of places where he/she can get help. Without doing one of the latter, owners and managers are simply enabling the addict and hurting their own bottom line in the long run. So please, keep addiction out of your workplace. It’s good for business.


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