Recovering Addicts: How to Limit Pessimism During Your Job Hunt

All of us have at one point or another felt the effects of having to go out and hunt for a job.  But only a few of us are in recovery and having to experience that same thing.  For those of us in recovery, going into the marketplace and hunting for a job can be an altogether more difficult thing than for those of us who have never struggled with addiction before.  For those of us who actually do need a job but have a history of addiction, sometimes getting that job can be a very difficult prospect.

Drug and alcohol addiction robs us of so much.  What we often forget though is that drug and alcohol addiction continues to rob us of so much even after we have beaten addiction and come out on the other side winning and successful.  What we do not always realize is that drug and alcohol addiction tends to have a lasting effect on us that seems to carry on long after we have stopped using drugs and alcohol.  From my own personal experience and from seeing it in thousands of fellow recovered addicts, drug and alcohol addiction leaves permanent scars.

How Past Addiction Affects Our Present Day Job Hunt

If you have suffered from addiction before, you are probably very familiar with the general feelings and sensations that come about from trying to get through life suffering and struggling with the stigma of addiction and substance abuse in general.  You have probably experienced this for yourself in more ways than one.

When it comes to a job hunt, all a prospective employer has to hear is that you were once an addict and boom, an instant mark against you.  From my perspective, I believe that this ultimately ends up disqualifying about fifty percent of persons in recovery who try to enter back into the workforce.

On the one hand, you can’t really blame employers for being skeptical.  They want what is in their best interests for their company, and if they don’t want to take the risk of hiring an ex-addict, that is on them.  And that is totally fine.  Rather than incriminating or railing against employers and feeling sorry for yourself about how hard it is to get a job once in recovery, I would instead encourage you to try to find strength and resilience in your recovery.  I would instead encourage you to work hard, to make it go right, and to push yourself to be the best that you can be in every way that you can.

Use pessimism as a fuel to the fire that is your need for a job.  Consider the, “It can’t get much worse than this,” principle.  Understand that, if you’ve been turned down because of your history of addiction, that that is simply the way it is and that that sort of thing is going to happen.

Use the pessimism to foster an understanding that all of this is simply a numbers game.  Use your experience with missing job opportunities to understand that it is only a matter of time before a job prospect comes through and you have a chance at a really good job.

What I want you to do is I want you to keep trying.  Remember that every “No” means that you are just one step closer to a “Yes.”  Keep this in mind and just keep at it!  Work on yourself, your pitch, your resume, your appearance, and just keep showing up for job interviews and you will eventually close the deal on a job where your new employer couldn’t care less that you were once an addict.

Why Some People Become Addicted and Others Don’t

In 2011, 22.5 million people in the U.S. admitted to abusing drugs, and many of those people become addicted eventually. In today’s day and age of rampant drug use, no person, family, neighborhood, or community is safe from the deadly grip of drug addiction.

Many people struggle to understand how or why people succumb to drug addiction. Most people mistakenly presume that those addicted to drugs lack willpower and moral principles, or that they can stop abusing drugs by simply making a conscious choice to change their behavior. The realities of drug addiction are far more complex. Drug addiction is a disease, and a person needs much more than strong will power in order to stop using drugs. Thanks to scientific advances, we now understand how drugs affect the brain, and that treatment can help people put their drug addictions behind them, allowing them to lead healthy and productive lives.

The Cost of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction has severe negative consequences for individuals and society as a whole. In fact, the total cost related to drug abuse and addiction exceeds $600 billion in the United States each and every year. This staggering figure includes:

  • $428 billion for alcohol and tobacco
  • $193 billion for illegal drugs

These numbers may be overwhelming, but they do not accurately portray the breadth of destruction and the safety implications associated with drug addiction. Every year, jobs are lost, families are torn apart, and abuse takes place at the hands of addiction.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Addiction forces people to compulsively seek out and use drugs, despite the severe consequences that are often experienced by those that are addicted and their families. Although most people voluntarily make the initial decision to use drugs, the changes in the brain that occur over time diminish the self-control of an addicted individual, making it difficult for them to resist the desire to take drugs.

Drugs contain harmful chemicals that affect the brain’s communication system and alter the way nerve cells typically process information. Scientists have discovered that there are two ways that this occurs: by over-stimulating the brain’s pleasurable “reward circuit” and by imitating the chemical messengers found naturally in the brain.

As a person’s drug abuse continues, their brain begins to adapt to the extreme dopamine surges it has become used to by producing less or reducing the amount of dopamine receptors. This results in a lessened impact of dopamine on the brain’s reward circuit, which lowers the person’s ability to enjoy the drugs and other things in life they once found pleasurable. This reduced level of dopamine makes an addicted individual feel the need to keep using drugs in order to restore their dopamine levels back to normal. Unfortunately, by now, larger and larger amounts of drugs are needed to achieve the same “high”.

Everyone Reacts Differently to the Drugs

There is no single variable that can determine whether or not a person will become addicted to drugs. However, the more risk factors that are present in a person’s life, the more likely they are to begin abusing drugs. The following risk factors play a prominent role in determining drug abuse and addiction:

  • Individual Biology – When combined with certain environmental influences, the genes that a person is born with account for nearly half of their vulnerability to addiction. A person’s ethnicity and gender as well as the presence of any mental disorders may also influence their risk of drug addiction.
  • Personal Development – The important developmental stages of a person’s life can affect their vulnerability to addiction as well. Drug abuse can lead to addiction at 21any age, but the earlier a person begins abusing drugs, the more likely it is that their drug abuse will transform into addiction. This is especially challenging for adolescents, because the parts of their brain that control judgment, decision making, and self-control are not yet fully developed. Adolescents are also more prone to experimenting with drugs and engaging in other risky behaviors.
  • Social Environment – From friends and family to quality of life and economic status, a person’s environment can also seriously influence their addictive behaviors and be a major factor in causing their drug addiction.

Thankfully, there are treatments available that can help people overcome their drug addictions and the disruptive effects that drugs have on their lives. Studies have shown that specialized behavioral therapy can help the majority of patients counter their addictions. Inpatient treatment programs are specifically tailored to each patient’s pattern of drug abuse, providing them with the specialized care they need to experience a sustained recovery and a drug-free life.  If you or a loved one has become addicted to a drug or to alcohol, take steps today to begin treatment and return to living a fulfilled lifestyle.

 

How to Take Back Your Life and Body From Drug Addiction

Overcoming drug addiction is never a simple or easy task. It takes lots of work, discipline and commitment. The threat of relapse is always around the corner and it is easy to give in when you are feeling weak, stressed, or things simply are not going your way. Recovery from drug addiction usually does not occur overnight. It is typically a long journey, and the journey can be arduous at times. But, with the right resources and support group drug addiction can be overcome. Drug addiction takes its toll on the body and spirit. It leaves you feeling emotionally and physically devastated. Drug use causes lots of damage to the body and mental health. The good news is the right support group, nutrition and exercise programs can help repair your body and get your life back.

How Drug Use Damages Your Body

Focusing on rehab and sobriety requires commitment, work and energy. People who have struggled with addiction and substance abuse know the toll it takes on their physical and emotional health. You can feel it and see it when you look in the mirror or when you look at old photos. Rehab provides an opportunity to begin repairing the damage. What kind of damage are we talking about? Different drugs cause different sorts of damage.  For example:

Marijuana – Damages include chronic cough and recurring bronchitis. It can impair short-term memory, judgment, coordination and balance. It may be a causal factor for individuals with a predisposition to schizophrenia. It is also associated with depression and anxiety.

Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, difficulty sleeping, nightmares and anxiety.

Cocaine – Cocaine abuse can cause damage to nasal passages, difficulty swallowing and gastrointestinal problems. It can also lead to insomnia. Long-term use can leas to anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks and mood disturbances.

Withdrawal symptoms include depression, fatigue, increased appetite, psychomotor retardation or agitation and hyper-insomnia.

Methamphetamine – Causes damage to essential organs such as the heart, lungs and liver. It can also lead to dental problems, insomnia and hepatitis. Other long-term damage includes memory loss, weight loss, impaired cognition, insomnia, paranoia and hallucinations.

Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, and an increased craving for the drug

Heroin – Damages include collapsed veins, heart infections, abscesses, arthritis, hepatitis C and HIV.

Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, goose bumps and leg movements.

Repairing the Body with Nutrition

Any type of drug addiction may lead to nutritional deficiencies. Someone immersed in the powers of addiction usually puts eating and dietary needs low on the list of priorities. Poor nutrition is the leading cause of many types of illnesses and disease.

Healing the body has to take place gradually. Begin with small steps so that you do not freak your body out with big changes. Doing too much too fast may be too overwhelming for a body damaged from drug addiction. Taking baby steps will have more staying power in the long run as well.

A good rule of thumb is to eat foods low in fat. Include a diet of lean protein to help rebuild your muscles. Also include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Recovering addicts are not all the same. It is best to work closely in sync with your doctor and nutritionist and find the best nutrition program that suits your needs.

Repairing Your Body With Exercise

Exercise is the other part of the equation. A healthy diet and regular exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle in general, but it is particularly important for a recovering addict to rebuild her physical and emotional health. As with nutrition, it is important to start out gradually and take baby steps with exercise. One of the best types of exercise is a daily walk. Do what you can without tiring yourself out. The goal is to shoot for 20 to 30 minutes four to five days a week. Start slow and gradually increase the length of your walks

Once you feel your health beginning to rebound, consider going to the gym and working with a trainer. A professional trainer will create a physical training exercise suited to your needs and abilities. A good routine will include exercises cardiovascular exercises and strength building exercises for your muscles.

The body and mind are intimately related. Rebuilding your body through physical exercise will also help to rebuild your emotional and mental health. Feeling better physically and emotionally reduces the risk of relapsing. Good physical and mental health is the best foundation for maintaining a healthy drug-free lifestyle.