How Treatment for a Drug or Alcohol Problem Can Benefit Your Future CareerAnna Ciulla
Initially, it may seem like a stretch to consider how treatment for a drug or alcohol problem could actually benefit your future career. After all, deliberations about how 30-plus days in rehab could affect your professional future may include one or more of the following concerns:
- That the path to gainful employment after treatment may seem hazy or uncertain;
- That the gap in your resume could be a red flag to potential employers;
- That taking a significant chunk of time off from work may set you back from getting that promotion you’re in line for—or worse, cost you your job;
- That successfully building (or rebuilding) a career after rehab will demand more resources than you’re able to marshal.
Such concerns are understandable. They can also be unavoidable in deciding whether to enter a rehab program. But letting these worries dictate a decision to forego treatment can also mean a missed opportunity for future professional growth, satisfaction and success in the long run. Why? Because the on-the-ground reality at Beach House Center for Recovery and other high-quality rehab facilities includes everyday stories of clients who have found professional growth, satisfaction and success—precisely as the result of the skills, lessons and opportunities they gained during treatment. These stories, plus the firsthand insights of our in-house experts and research findings from the larger field of recovery, provide a fuller, more accurate picture, which is critical to keep in mind whenever you’re considering treatment.
Investing in Your Professional Success – Transferable Skills and Lessons from Inpatient Rehab
No one at Beach House Center for Recovery is more qualified to talk about the positive professional investment you are making when you pursue inpatient rehab than Tim Fitzpatrick. In his role as the lead case manager for Beach House, Fitzpatrick has many duties. One of these is helping clients prepare for life after rehab and a job that will best suit their gifts, interests and new recovery lifestyle. (Indeed, helping clients find successful long-term employment is a Beach House priority, on the basis of research showing that clients who have a job to lose achieve better treatment outcomes, such as lower rates of relapse and a higher motivation for recovery.)
Much of this professional development work begins during your first 30 days at Beach House, during our detox and inpatient rehab program, and it starts with a structured daily regimen that encourages a wide range of skills and attributes that any employer looks for when vetting job candidates, regardless of the industry:
- self-discipline and responsibility
- mutual respect and teamwork
- good communication skills
- effective time management
- good hygiene
- healthy stress management strategies
Tim Fitzpatrick described in greater detail how the daily regimen and structure of Beach House’s inpatient rehab programs help clients develop these employable skills and attributes:
Some of our clients want to sleep all day. We get them up early for group, and they have to shower, come to group presentable, and are encouraged to get to group on time. We also emphasize the importance of starting the day off with breakfast, staying for the whole group and being respectful; speaking without obscenities, and self-care and grooming. (Good self-presentation is key in any job.) This protocol soon becomes second nature.
We make clients make their beds, follow a curfew, and exercise good time management. They also have a chore schedule with structured duties they are responsible for … We inspect their rooms daily to ensure they’re making their beds and putting dirty clothes in their laundry basket. They used to say in AA “messy bed, messy head.” We tell clients, “Make your day. Have your breakfast. Start the day right.” And there is no beach and no pool if these responsibilities aren’t fulfilled.
Clients who do well meeting these expectations can qualify for a promotion as a “peer lead,” upon the recommendation of their therapist, Fitzpatrick said.
Professional Coaching, Resume Building and Career Development During Rehab
What many prospective clients also don’t know is that professional coaching, resume building and career development are an integral part of the Beach House experience, starting in inpatient rehab, and these are tailored to the client’s age and season of professional life.
“We get a lot of clients, both young and old,” Fitzpatrick said. “Some of our younger clients haven’t even had a job. For these clients, we have to go over being professional and how to present yourselves. But we also get a lot of older clients in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. [Many of these clients] may have lost a job and don’t know what to do.”
Many of these same clients, regardless of their age, can benefit from an honest assessment of their current job situation and whether it will support their long-term recovery. Fitzpatrick helps guide that introspection process, encouraging clients to take stock of what’s most important to them, including their values, purpose and passion. (Here he draws on his personal experience, having once struggled with substance abuse and left a lucrative career on Wall Street in order to get treatment in Florida. As a full-time case manager, he now makes less money than he once did, but is far happier and healthier doing what he loves and helping others.)
When a client is still in inpatient rehab, they receive help putting together a resume, so that by the time the client has moved to Beach House’s intensive outpatient program, they are “ready for interviews.”
In this phase of treatment, the focus narrows even more around helping the client find the right job, by coaching them through the interview process (how to answer questions, look professional and be themselves, including how to manage questions related to drug-related felonies); and, by connecting them with recovery-friendly companies and other career resources.
Just how successful are these career development efforts by Fitzpatrick and his team to help clients secure gainful employment?
“A lot of them get jobs right away.”
How Treatment for Addiction Now Can Predict Occupational Success Later
Research also seems to confirm that treatment for addiction predicts future occupational success. Consider, for example, the findings of a 50-year, longitudinal study by Harvard researchers. They followed a group of men diagnosed with alcoholism over the course of five decades. What they found was that the men who achieved successful abstinence also experienced higher occupational success, among other key quality-of-life improvements.
“Dave” (whose name has been changed) can relate to that experience. Before treatment, he was “unemployable.” His life revolved around getting drugs and alcohol and making enough money to sustain his habit. Today, after treatment, Dave is a successful marketing manager at a mid-sized company. Here’s how treatment helped him advance in his career, in his own words:
Treatment gave me the tools to be introspective and look at myself and areas of improvement in my life … [Treatment] gave me the ability to look at myself and take an honest appraisal of what’s going on, which is often needed in the professional world as well—the need to look into a situation and see what you’ve got going on and see where you can make improvements to help the team as a whole.
You could say that treatment helped lay the groundwork for better communication skills. There was a lot of work that came afterwards, but it did lay the groundwork for being able to work through and communicate in uncomfortable situations, and come out the other side … We’re having uncomfortable situations a lot of the time in a work environment. To be able to overcome them and work through them helps us be successful.
What’s the takeaway?
That getting treatment now for a drug or alcohol problem may be one of the best things you could do for your professional future.
For more information about how Beach House helps clients prepare for life after rehab, please contact us today.