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Addiction and Employment – What to Do if You have a Criminal RecordAToN is a San Diego Detox program that focuses on improving the individual lives of our residents to help them lead healthy, successful lives in the community. We, for one, are proud of the work we do and of all the amazing residents who have recovered with us. Our community and the value we bring to it are critical parts of our self-identity. Searching for employment after addiction or substance abuse has impacted your career path can be one of the most challenging journeys, but you can manage with patience, persistence, and guidance. Managing your addiction, knowing your rights, and doing your best to make a solid presentation are all critical parts of maintaining your career after a drug conviction.

Addiction and Criminal Records

A 2019 PrisonPolicy.org study shows that nearly half a million people are serving time for non-violent drug convictions. The infamous “War on Drugs” in the US has been impacting communities for generations, especially minorities. Drug and alcohol convictions have a notable, measurable impact not only on individual households and communities but throughout the nation. There are hundreds of thousands of employable adults who are hamstrung in their careers by nonviolent criminal records. Upon release, many quickly relapse, fueled by stress, poverty, and severe social factors preventing them from properly recovering.

The most important part of getting back on your feet after a drug conviction is overcoming your addiction. A professional detox and recovery program does more than managing the symptoms of addiction. Professional therapy can keep you safe and healthy throughout the detox process, and help you develop coping skills to not only overcome urges but to better your life in a number of ways. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one tool that residents can use long after their recovery to focus their mind, resist cravings, and lead a healthier life. Group and family therapy, as well as accountability partners and a caring support community all work together to give our residents a powerful network for a life-long recovery and social connections. We find that community is an essential part of finding meaning in your life and career.

Knowing Your Employment and Drug Policies

Employers and employees both have their own set of rights when it comes to drug and alcohol consumption. These may change from state to state, or even from company to company, but ultimately addiction is considered a disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Knowing your rights under the ADA gives you an advantage and can help you prepare for some of the more difficult questions an employer may ask. Using drugs or other restricted substances during work hours, on a work facility, or while under the employment of a particular company may all be grounds for a discharge, and an employer can run tests for these substances at their own discretion. However, judging a candidate by a previous addiction after they have sought treatment is discriminatory. It’s important to make sure you understand your rights and to come prepared.

As the saying goes, we fall to our lowest level of preparation. The unfortunate truth is that a prior conviction can still impact your search for a job, but your professionalism, preparedness, and skills can carry you above your weakest moments. Learn and practice new skills through free sites like Khan Academy or YouTube. If you have the resources, some attorneys may be able to help reduce nonviolent offenses. If you choose to go through a professional recovery program, your counselors may also have information and connections to employers who are sympathetic and understanding to those suffering from addiction. Overcoming addiction is one of the greatest challenges we can experience in our lives. Seek out the help of professionals to give you the best prospects for the future.