The truth is, drug addiction and other substance use disorders take a lot away from a person. Addiction can claim the person’s ability to be a productive member of society, ravage the relationships they have with their loved ones, and even take away the person’s autonomy. In the end, the addict can only focus on their drug cravings, when their next fix is coming, and how they’re going to get it. That’s just the destructive nature of the disorder.
Throughout this process, it is not only the addict who suffers; it is also their family and friends – the people who are closest to them. The power of addiction is so severe that it can consume even the strongest bonds.
However, that is not to say that there is no hope for a better tomorrow. There absolutely is, and creating a new life after drug addiction is well within your reach.
You have likely already taken the first steps. It might have been difficult to accept that you have a problem, and it is even more challenging to start drug addiction treatment and your journey of recovery. Perhaps you have joined a substance abuse treatment program of some kind. Maybe you have contacted addiction treatment specialists and recovery programs to help you. Whatever the case may be, you are now dedicated to sober living and would like to take active steps in improving your lifestyle.
The Importance of a Fresh Start
After an emotionally taxing time in a treatment center, you may feel like you’re not in the right mindset to be dealing with major life decisions. It is completely understandable to feel this way. You don’t have to pressure yourself into anything, but taking small steps towards a better quality of life is going to make a world of difference.
To stay on your path of recovery and avoid relapse, you need to lay a good foundation. If you’re not sure where to start, you should try looking for a job to give you a routine and a sense of purpose. Establishing these healthy patterns, along with a stable support system from your loved ones, is a great way to get a head start. These will provide you with the strength you need to overcome mental health issues and move forward with your head held high.
If you need some more information on how to start looking for a job and make amends with your friends and family members, take a look at this comprehensive guide to rebuilding your life after addiction.
Re-entering the Workforce
The idea of finding a job – whether in your old career or starting a completely new one – can be daunting. This is especially so if you have not only a history of substance abuse but also a criminal record. You may wonder what kind of employer would want to hire you or what skills you can even offer. Don’t panic!
We’re here to help you and take you through a simple process that breaks down looking for a job into several sections that aren’t too difficult.
- Finding the right type of job for yourself
The last thing you want to do is land a job that makes you miserable. The whole point of finding employment is for you to gain a sense of pride and accomplishment and be happy that you are useful, productive, and contributing to society in a meaningful way. You won’t feel any of these things if you find yourself in an environment you’re uncomfortable with, so you shouldn’t settle for just any job.
Take a moment to consider what job would be best for you. Maybe you’d enjoy the one you had before. Maybe you’d like to try venturing into a new career. Think about your education and the skillsets you possess, and whether you could benefit from a training program or course.
Don’t forget to consider your substance abuse history as well; there’s no need to expose yourself to the substances you want to stay away from. (This is why being a bartender after having just gone through alcohol treatment may not be the best idea.)
No matter what job you want, networking – introducing yourself to and building relationships with the people in your chosen line of work – is essential to finding suitable employment. You see it in pretty much every profession: meeting someone new, shaking hands, and talking about work are simple steps you can take to getting your foot in the door and finding referrals.
Networking can be done online (on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) but also offline. Talk to staff members at local treatment centers and people in your support groups. Someone might know something that will help you in your job hunt.
The secret to networking is always to be friendly and open; keep an open line of communication and follow-up with those that could help you.
- Visiting relevant sites
Just as with networking, job hunting can be done both online and offline. Try visiting some of these great, completely free resources for finding employment:
CareerOneStop: This site is endorsed by the Department of Labor and will help you narrow down your job search by your geographical location. They have an extensive database of potential job openings in every corner of the country.
America In Recovery: This is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping those in addiction recovery. It will connect you with employers who are willing to hire people in recovery.
The HIRE Network: If you have a criminal record, The HIRE Network specializes in setting you up with work. It doesn’t explicitly work with recovering addicts, but even if you don’t have a criminal record, you can contact them to see if they can help.
- Sharpening your interview skills
Before you attend a job interview, know your rights. Read up on what the potential employer is allowed to ask you and what they aren’t, as well as what rights you have in terms of getting hired and laid off. You won’t be able to stand your ground or refuse to answer a question if you’re not informed on the law.
In any job interview, it’s important to appear relaxed. Yes, you may feel nervous, but try not to let it show. Answer the questions to the best of your ability. It would be great if you could research the company or workplace beforehand and mention some tidbits that show you are interested in working for them.
Whatever you do, don’t lie about your history. It might be brought to the surface sooner or later, and it won’t look good for you if you’ve tried to hide it from your supervisors.
Rebuilding Your Relationships
Looking for a job is one thing, but building a support system that will be there for you every step of your recovery is entirely different. The former involves meeting new people and talking to strangers in real life and online, but the latter is all about facing your family and friends – people who love you but whom you may have hurt throughout the course of your addiction.
The truth is that any type of addiction has devastating effects not only on the addict but also on those who are close to them. People lose trust; people get hurt and become desperate to break out of that vicious cycle of substance abuse and mental health issues. You might have lost some people you cared about. You could be wondering if there is a way to get them back.
Rebuilding your relationships is a crucial step in your recovery. It means that you need to reach out to those who are still with you and those who have walked away to see whether there is something worth salvaging.
Here is some advice on how you can approach this in a way that works both for you and the people you’re talking to.
- Transparent and honest communication
You cannot even begin to think about rebuilding trust without communication that goes both ways. You need to express your thoughts and feelings in a calm, articulate manner, but you also need to listen actively to what the other person has to say. Don’t just listen; you need to hear them.
Too often, people just wait for their turn in the conversation without pausing to consider another person’s point of view. To repair your relationships, you will need to put yourself in your loved ones’ shoes. Consider their emotions. Tell them that you understand how they feel.
In the same vein, you should describe your own point of view. Talk when it is your turn to talk and try to be as precise as possible.
Communication needs to be transparent and honest. It is also a process, not a one-time event. To be successful in repairing damaged relationships, checking in with other people to see how they’re doing (and sharing your mindset in return) is vital.
- Accepting responsibility for your actions
If you were wrong or hurtful in the past, you need to own up to it. Pretending like nothing happened or that the past stays in the past won’t help much in the long run. If you hurt someone close to you, show them that you are aware of it now and that it wasn’t right. Ask for forgiveness.
Just as you’d like someone to acknowledge that they caused you pain, people around you – even when they love and support you – will appreciate hearing that you’re sorry for what happened. Addressing the issues from the past head-on will help everyone move forward with a better, more positive attitude.
- Being actively involved
For any relationship to work, both sides need to be actively involved. If your friend asks you to join them for a walk with their dog, return the favor by inviting them over for a game night. Go to your kid’s school play. Get your partner a bouquet or a book they wanted to read. Organize family picnics or movie nights with your friends.
This doesn’t have to happen all the time, of course. Everyone values their free time and space, but on occasion, show that you are present in your loved ones’ lives. Show them that you care and that you want to spend time with them. Take an interest in what they’re doing, and they will be more open to sharing their lives with you.
- Letting go of bad influences
Not every person in your life is worth keeping around. You might have picked up some bad influences in your addiction – enablers who encouraged you to keep using so they could feel good about using as well. These people aren’t worth your time, and they don’t want what’s best for you. They just need an excuse to continue going deeper into their own addiction.
After a trying time in a rehab program, you owe it to yourself to surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you. They will support your sobriety and push you to adopt new healthy habits and improve your way of life. Be critical over who you choose to keep in your life. Your support system should contain only people who will be honest with you (even if the truth hurts sometimes) and always have your best interests at heart.
Adopt Healthy Habits
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of healthy habits. To successfully shed your bad habits of using, you need new, healthy ones to replace them. These new habits will improve your lifestyle and help you feel more present, stronger, and more energized than you were before.
Science has proven time and again that exercise has an intensely positive effect on mental and physical health. It alleviates depression and gives you a surge of healthy, stimulating endorphins. It also strengthens your nervous and cardiovascular systems. Exercise is the one habit you can take up that your body and your mind will instantly be grateful for. And it can be free! Simply lace up your running shoes or throw down a mat and find some great yoga YouTube videos. You won’t regret it.
- Healthy Diet
Similar to exercise, a healthy diet has several benefits: it reduces your chance of cardiovascular disease, prevents your energy levels from spiking or dropping too low throughout the day, and keeps your body weight at an optimal level. You don’t have to become a nutrition expert or a die-hard health nut; cutting out junk food and soda from your diet – or indulging in it only occasionally – will be more than enough to set you on the right path.
Furthermore, you can also get into cooking. Cooking for your loved ones can be a wonderfully domestic and bonding experience. Dinners spent together with your family or friends where you prepare a hearty meal for everyone will not be forgotten any time soon.
- Get Creative
Take up a hobby! This can be anything from doing pottery, painting, or writing fiction to knitting and bird watching. Having a hobby that you genuinely enjoy and can share with other hobbyists will make a significant impact on your self-improvement journey. Hobbies stimulate your creativity and imagination, help you meet new people who like doing the same things, emotionally engage you, and even help you learn new skills.
Aside from exercise, spending an hour a day on your hobby is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. Take some time to consider what you’ve always wanted to try or learn but never got around to. Now is your chance!
Patience, Practicing Self-Care, and Kindness
The most important thing is to remember is that change doesn’t happen overnight. You might think that you can instantly have this fantastic life filled with good relationships and healthy activities and be magically free of your addiction, but it doesn’t work like that.
Instead, addiction recovery is a continuous process. You need to set your goals and determine what type of life you want to lead. You need to be realistic and work hard. Lean on the people around you. Listen to them and let them support you. Attend your meetings and get help if you have any mental health issues.
Keep in mind that you will always have good days and bad days. It will take months or even years to repair the damage to your mind and emotions and to soothe all the hurt. There is no ‘correct’ way to do this, but there is a way that will work for you.
Be patient with yourself. Pushing yourself is good because it helps you move and engage and get things done, but you also need to learn how to be kind to yourself. Recognize when it’s okay just to take a moment and breathe. Find a balance in life that you can sustain for a long time to come.
If you need additional help in setting up your new life after drug or alcohol (or any other substance) addiction, please give us a call at (619) 630-7844 or contact us through our website. We know it’s not easy, but we are here to assist you with anything you might need.