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Breaking the Ties Between Unemployment and Addiction

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October 14, 2015 in Health


Ever since an economic downturn has gripped parts of the United States, many of its citizens have found themselves trying to deal with the uncertainty of being unemployed.

Unfortunately, the problem of unemployment also perpetuates a vicious cycle wherein a person who is unemployed has a much greater likelihood of using illicit drugs, than a person who has either a full or part-time job.

The video also sheds light on the troubling statistic that every time unemployment rates in the United States go up by just one percent, the associated increase in alcoholism and the abuse of alcoholic beverages goes up by a startling 17 percent.

Overcoming the Stigma

But it doesn’t stop at becoming sober. Even once a person who abused drugs or alcohol in the past enters recovery and gets to the stage where he or she is able to attempt to gain employment as a sober individual, the road ahead is often very long and challenging. Especially if there are misconceptions about people who use drugs.

Addiction is often characterized by long gaps in employment, or the inability to hold any sort of job for a long period of time. Therefore, an applicant will likely be expected to explain to human resources personnel why he or she has those types of instances in an employment history.

Although many people may try to be as honest as possible in discussing the past, along with the eventual the decision to get help, it’s not that simple. It is often very hard for people in recovery to overcome the hurdle of getting hired. This is just because a manager might consider them as risky or unreliable.

States with Known Drug Problems Tend to Have More Unemployed Individuals

After reading what you’ve learned so far, it should come as no surprise that, in general, states that have the highest rates of unemployment are also those with the greatest likelihood of drug problems. Some managers even complain there are people who are willing to fill positions, but those individuals cannot pass mandatory drug tests. Therefore they are not able to be hired.

What Can Be Done?

Clearly, this is a very complex problem. However, the trend might begin to reverse if more people are willing to offer jobs to people in recovery. If a company promotes itself as a workplace that is open to taking on recovering addicts, it encourages people who are already tackling sobriety to take a very important step by seeking employment. Beyond this outreach, this indirectly causes people who are still struggling with substance abuse to get help.

That’s because they’ll know once they have started down the path of sobriety, there are particular employment options willing to give chances to people who have made mistakes before. Otherwise, a person may feel full of despair, just assuming even if the goal of sobriety is met, employment will still be unattainable.

Pioneering Companies

One such company, Envirosafe Stripping, Inc., is located in Pennsylvania. It has more than a decade of history in terms of specifically hiring people who are recovering addicts or convicts. Employers there have also recently gone a step further by providing interested persons with access to a training program that helps them begin to grasp skilled trades.

Another option, called Omni Computer Products, is heavily based in telemarketing. Its president abused drugs and alcohol in the past. He sees no problem with hiring people in recovery. The reason? He says they tend to work harder than their drug-free counterparts out of a desire to prove their worthiness.

A Tailored Database

There is also a specialized website called America in Recovery that connects jobseekers and employers. This is so, even if the former group has been in trouble with the law or otherwise another characteristic that makes it harder to find a job.

The website was brought to life by a gentleman named Larry Keast. He founded the Venturetech Corporation in 1980. Since then, has focused on hiring individuals who have had rough pasts. Keast views his approach as a way to help people move on with their lives.

A Helping Hand for Elderly

Keast also focuses on people who are trying to get jobs at later stages of life. This is significant, because statistics in the previously mentioned video discussed how since data, that began being collected in 2003, shows illicit drug use in the senior citizen demographic has gone up drastically. More so than in any other age group.

Spotlighted recently is a worrying trend: if a person loses his or her job after age 50, there is a very real possibility of never working again and having to figure out a way to fill spare time.

The problem of too much free time, then, might motivate a senior citizen to turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to ease the embarrassment of a life in the working world that ended much more suddenly than expected. Or they might have become addicted to drugs prescribed to treat other problems. This is a realistic example of how even if drug use did not cause a person to become unemployed, the two problems can still be related.

A Future That Is More Hopeful

It will not be possible to break the strong links between unemployment and alcohol or drug abuse overnight. However, it seems more likely that the momentum may start to shift in the other direction as long as there are a growing number of companies, like the ones mentioned in this piece, that are willing to give opportunities to people with checkered pasts.

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