Searching for a new job is a major step on the path of addiction recovery.

You will be faced with numerous challenges as you build your new life, and this is certainly one of them. You want to avoid stressors and triggers that would harm your recovery, but at the same time, you’re ready to re-enter the professional world as someone who is changed and looking to improve all the time. The thought of facing a new job in a different career can be overwhelming, but if you choose to embrace the opportunity as a part of your journey, you will be able to handle it.

Addiction recovery is a personal health matter that should not necessarily come up during a job search. Although it is a very important part of your life, addiction recovery is a private matter. But if you spent time in rehab to establish your recovery, you have a gap on your resume.

Instead of not addressing the gap in your employment history, you can mention that this time period was used as a sabbatical to address a personal health issue. Rather than expound on the point, redirect the conversation to your eagerness to rejoin the workforce with the company you are interviewing with.

Of course, you don’t have to avoid talking about it altogether. It might even be healthy to embrace it at points, though you should not focus on it. Every job is ideally given based on merit and your primary focus should be on your professional skills and abilities.

Using this guide, you can learn what to focus on as you move through this process.

Focus on a Changed Lifestyle

Your job search should reflect your new life choices. Addiction recovery is a lifestyle change that focuses not just on maintaining sobriety although that is paramount, but also on improving your overall wellbeing.

When you are leaving a past of addiction behind, you must change everything that was a part of your life during your life of addiction. This sounds easy enough, but in practice, it means that you are changing more than your career path. You’re changing the entire trajectory of your life. This is important and should be handled with responsibility and care.

Choose a job that nurtures this new lifestyle, not one that will lead you down the wrong path.

Avoid Stress in the Workplace

If an interviewer asks why you are a mid-career changer, you can mention that you are looking for a career with less job stress. This answer is socially acceptable and is honest.

You do not have to elaborate that you leaned on a substance to cope with difficult times in your previous life. You should instead use it as motivation to find a more peaceful situation for yourself.

Address Health Challenges Carefully

You are not required to disclose your medical history during a job interview. Addiction is a mental health matter that affects your physical well-being. Speak about your addiction recovery as you would any other delicate health matter, discreetly.

Mention that you overcame health challenges, and unless you are pressed for more details, leave it at that. Remember that your recovery is covered by HIPAA and the healthcare provider cannot provide details about you.

Know You’re Protected Against Discrimination

If you are worried that employers who know that you are in recovery will discriminate against you when hiring, remember that you are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Workforce Investment Act.

As long as you remain sober, these laws will work in your favor to protect you from discrimination.

Look Locally

You might know someone who works at a local company. Somebody might remember you when you apply. Try to find opportunities in smaller businesses or ones close to where you live. If someone knows you, they’re more likely to give you a shot.

One way to go about finding these opportunities is to look on local job boards, rather than huge, national sites like Monster and Indeed. These will give you a better chance of being noticed.

Try Informational Interviews

Try to gain an introduction with people who work where you want to work. Personal referrals are often your ticket to being hired. Make sure that your references know your stance on disclosure or nondisclosure of your history.

Do your homework on the company where you want to work. If the prospective company has a website, browse through it to get a feel for the corporate culture. You can also learn a lot from the way employment ads are worded.

Clean Work Culture

When you are vetting potential employers, find out what your prospective coworkers do in their off hours. If they are currently gather for a happy hour drink as soon as they leave work, you definitely want to avoid this workplace.

Peer pressure in the workplace exists, and you won’t want to appear unfriendly by not joining in the social scene so it is best to avoid workplaces where this culture is embraced.

Workplace culture is important for anyone looking to fit in at their new place of employment, but it is especially important for a person in recovery. If your personality clicks with your boss and coworkers, you will look forward to heading into work every day.

Fear and stress are reduced when you enjoy working together. Seek a place that focuses on making these things a positive force, not just one looking to link up drinking buddies.

Location Matters

You should also avoid working in areas where addiction is rampant or places where you know you can easily get drugs. If the office is located directly next to your old favorite watering hole, it is best to scrap that application.

Finding a new area of town to work in would be a better plan to support sobriety. Remember, this is a new chapter in your life and a change of scenery can do wonders for that.

Job Search Choices

When you are searching for a job, you may want to check out the America in Recovery website. It provides links to employers who are willing to hire those who are in recovery. You can also try government websites and local recovery-focused nonprofits. A lot of times, there will be programs in place to help facilitate clean living. You should be taking advantage of these opportunities.

There are plenty of jobs just waiting for a person with your skills and willingness to work.