Employment Support

Employment Support

At Design for Recovery, we believe that becoming sober involves much more than merely abstaining from psychoactive substances. It is about creating a new life that makes it easier to not use when the inevitable cravings and temptations of early sobriety rear their ugly heads. To quote French filmmaker and writer Jean Cocteau, “The dead drug leaves a ghost behind. At certain hours it haunts the house.” By creating a stable career and developing personal autonomy, young men in early sobriety can step off the emotional rollercoaster they spent most of their lives riding. This not only reduces the chances of relapse, but it provides young men with lives they value — lives that they’d be reluctant to throw away.

While employment and financial stability can lower the likelihood of relapse, the benefits of employment go well beyond that. At Design for Recovery, it is our philosophy that sobriety is about building a life, not just to ensure sobriety, but to live out ones full potential. Most young men seek recovery not because they hate drugs and alcohol and love the idea of getting sober. Rather, they decide to enter recovery because they’re deeply unhappy, and substance abuse is getting in the way of living prosperous and fulfilling lives. At Design for Recovery, recovery doesn’t stop when an individual has stopped using drugs. That’s when recovery truly begins, when they can begin changing their lives and living out their dreams.

Employment Problems during Active Addiction

Many new residents at Design for Recovery arrive with little to no employment history. While some residents did have jobs or careers, their relationship with their jobs was often marred by the consequences of regular substance abuse. Others find themselves in dead-end jobs or life-draining careers that they did not choose for themselves. During active addiction, people are not in control of their own lives. Career ambitions fall by the wayside to make way for more harmful priorities, and even eking out the most meager living can be a struggle.

It is common for young men with addictions to face numerous workplace problems. Because substance abuse can lead to impulsive, violent, and unpredictable behavior, many experience interpersonal conflicts with coworkers and employers. During hangovers or periods of withdrawal, it can be hard to muster up the willpower to get out of bed in the morning and go to work. Absenteeism is common. Addicts who do manage to get to work every day often nonetheless do a shoddy job and are written up for performance issues. While some manage to hang on to their jobs by a thread, it is quite common for young men with addictions to be fired from their jobs, often repeatedly.

Employment support is part of a unique approach at Design for Recovery, one where the focus is on long-term sobriety and financial independence beyond the walls of sober living—that removing drugs and alcohol only begins the process of rebuilding a broken life.

Again, this is an evidence-based approach supported by organizations like The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which includes employment support in what it calls “sustained recovery management.” More specifically, “a positive alternative to the current common approach of ‘admit, treat, and discharge’, often resulting in revolving-door cycles of high dropout rates, post-treatment relapse and readmission rates.”

Employment Support at Design for Recovery

Design for Recovery helps young men overcome the struggles of finding employment, despite the obstacles that many addicts face. Design for Recovery also recognizes that employment is a key protective factor against relapse and social exclusion, a sentiment supported by various drug and alcohol research organizations worldwide. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction:

[Employment] can provide financial means, increase social networks, be associated with certain rights… Moreover, employment can help drug users to recover from their dependence and reduce the risk of relapse after drug treatment; the positive value of employment is also recognized by many drug users themselves. The potential benefits of being in (paid) work can include a sense of responsibility and contribution to society; a sense of self-worth and confidence; a new source of identity; a new social network of non-drug users; and a daily routine that is not focused on the procurement of drugs.

Employment support is part of a unique approach at Design for Recovery, one where the focus is on long-term sobriety and financial independence beyond the walls of sober living—that removing drugs and alcohol only begins the process of rebuilding a broken life.

Again, this is an evidence-based approach supported by organizations like The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which includes employment support in what it calls “sustained recovery management.” More specifically, “a positive alternative to the current common approach of ‘admit, treat, and discharge’, often resulting in revolving-door cycles of high dropout rates, post-treatment relapse and readmission rates.”

Working a Job in Early Sobriety

During a resident’s time at Design for Recovery, they will seek and begin employment while pursuing recovery concurrently. When a new resident comes to Design for Recovery, they can expect to spend their initial days there focusing on the necessary tools necessary to build a social support system. However, once they are physically and mentally healthy, residents work to secure employment while continuing to reside at their sober living home. Working a job while going through Design for Recovery’s structured sober living program can be challenging. For residents who have spent a long time unemployed prior to this, a full-time job can be very stressful. However, at Design for Recovery, we believe that helping residents develop the skills and coping tools necessary to stay sober even in stressful and demanding circumstances is one of the most useful gifts they will ever receive.

Looking for a job can be difficult, even for people with no history of addiction. However, Design for Recovery’s resources and vast network in Los Angeles’ sober community allows us to help residents find job placements with relative ease. Design for Recovery offers recovering addicts valuable resources to help expedite their reintegration into the workplace. This includes resume support, job search assistance, and the all-important and far-reaching tool of networking—connecting with members of the house, sponsors, counselors and other sober friends to gather job leads.

Design for Recovery helps residents apply to jobs and supports them throughout the entire process. For some, this means assisting them with rewriting a spotty resume. For others, this can mean helping them tackle legal problems that are impeding their employment prospects. We often stress the importance of life skills to all residents so that they will be prepared to meet the demands of future employers. Design for Recovery fosters values such as accountability, responsibility, honesty, and diligence. Given that, it is no surprise that employers are often shocked at the quality of Design for Recovery residents’ work.

The numbers speak for themselves. Nearly half of Design for Recovery house members work either full- or part-time, from dishwashing and serving to hospitality management and personal training. From entry-level to management, the spectrum of jobs is wide. The opportunities to network in different careers are aplenty. Several members even work at drug and alcohol treatment centers in the Los Angeles area.

Pursuing Ambitions and Long-Term Sobriety

Beyond helping residents find a job, Design for Recovery is also committed to helping young men shape their long term plans and dreams. During early sobriety, many young men often find their passions rekindling. As such, residents often begin allowing themselves (often for the very first time!) to yearn for greater ambitions. Design for Recovery works individually with every resident to help them formulate a plan to achieve these goals. Starting a business requires a plan, social contacts, and a great deal of savings. Becoming a doctor or a lawyer requires going back to school. With these end goals in mind, residents at Design for Recovery often build savings, network with people in their chosen fields, and return to school. While working their job at Design for Recovery, residents develop character and skills they can take with them down any career path — but we also make sure they are taking the proper steps toward the latter goal.

Finding employment is, of course, only step one of achieving financial autonomy. Design for Recovery is also committed to offering money management services to all residents. To that end, staff members work with residents to develop budgets, investment skills, and debt relief plans.

With its commitment to employment support, Design for Recovery stays true to its mission of helping young men find a passion for life that they lost while trapped in the hell of addiction. As the old saying goes, “Recovery does not open the gates to heaven and let us in, it opens the gates of hell and lets us out.”

Find more ways Design for Recovery can guide this journey out of addiction, and the hell it traps us in, by visiting www.designforrecovery.com.

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