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Hiring Recovering Addicts in the Behavior Health Industry

One of the most unique parts of the behavioral health Industry is the fact that those recovering from substance abuse problems have excellent job prospects within the industry. In fact, the experience of having been addicted to, and then recovering from, a drug of choice is often an experiential quality that employers are looking for. Indeed, recovering addicts can offer a wealth of first-hand experience that can help other patients find hope in a seemingly bleak situation. Further, employment in the industry allows the recovering addict to have a second chance, while also helping those experiencing the darkest moments of their lives.

Why the Industry (and Clients) Love Recovering Addicts

One of the most successful traits of any behavioral health professional is empathy. Empathy –the ability to understand and appreciate the trials that the patient or client is experiencing can be a major relationship builder. Many of those suffering from substance abuse issues feel alone – as though no one understands them or their struggle. Further, entering a drug treatment program is one of the scariest decisions an addict will ever make. Knowing that they are surrounded by others who truly understand them is not only comforting, but also allows for more open communication.

Recovering addicts tend to be very passionate about working in the industry and helping others. Having experienced addiction firsthand, many hope to help others achieve sobriety and success. This passion can lead to higher productivity, better relationships with staff and clients, and often a winning outcome for all involved.

Considerations of Hiring a Recovering Addict

Recovering addicts are just that – recovering. Substance abuse disorders cannot be cured, rather they are a lifelong struggle that is managed through continued support. Behavior health professionals that formerly abused drugs and alcohol are at risk of relapse. Working in the behavioral health industry is mentally and physically challenging. Burnout is not uncommon. For a recovering addict, the stresses of the job can be overwhelming, especially if they’re not addressed promptly. Recovering addicts should have a strong support team on which to lean during stressful times, both within the treatment center and in their personal lives.

Recovering addicts who have not been fully or properly trained may believe that what worked for them will also work for their patients or clients. This simply is not the case. There are many circumstances that conspire to cause a substance abuse problems, therefore, every client must be treated as an individual. This means that treatment protocols may be very different for two individuals abusing the same substance.

Having experienced substance abuse is not a substitute for proper training. Education and training is a must, even for recovering addicts, as there are many variables when treating individuals. These can include co-occurring medical and psychological illnesses that can make substance abuse treatment more complex.

Final Thoughts

Recovering addicts may offer any organization – within or outside of the addiction treatment industry – a unique asset. Of course, as with any hiring decision, the qualifications and personality of the applicant is paramount when deciding on employment. A strong human resources program that understands those choosing to fight for their sobriety every day, may yield some of the best-performing employees in the organization.