Are There Certain Types of Jobs I Should Avoid in Early Recovery?

Are There Certain Types of Jobs I Should Avoid in Early Recovery?

Construction workers with chronic pain issues have increased risk of opioid abuse

Addiction is a neurobiological disease, and genetic and environmental factors make certain individuals significantly more vulnerable. To affect the most positive possible outcome, addicts must take a comprehensive approach to their recoveries, which can include intrapersonal changes to thought patterns and interpersonal shifts in social circles and employment. A common question is what types of jobs a person should avoid in the early stages of recovery. Employment is important because it provides personal satisfaction, structured routine and healthy reintegration into the community, but individuals must avoid certain jobs based on their particular addiction and risk factors. An alcoholic might want to avoid working in a bar, and prescription drug addicts might want to avoid hospital or pharmacy jobs, but the risk factors in many jobs must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Jobs with Relapse Risk

The presence/availability of alcohol or drugs in a profession is not the only factor when determining risk. For example, the Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program (FADAP) reports that flight attendants test positive for alcohol and/or drugs at nine times the rate pilots do. In this case, the FADAP identifies the risk factors as extensive nonstop physicality, elevated safety/service responsibilities, delays and overnight stays away from home, irregular work schedules, and unspoken expectations regarding physical appearance and body weight. These pressures can motivate self-medicating use, and extended stays away from home can increase recreational use. When paired with genetic vulnerabilities, these behaviors significantly increase the likelihood of addiction development.

Several similar examples also exist, including the following:

  • Construction workers with chronic pain issues have increased risk of opioid abuse
  • High-pressure and stressful work environments can motivate benzodiazepine use
  • Late-night professions might increase the appeal of amphetamines and stimulants
  • Pathological gamblers experience more risk working at casinos or sporting events
  • Athletic trainers at a fitness center often have increased exposure to anabolic steroids

Just as certain professions might factor into an individual’s development of addiction, they can also entail relapse risk for recovering addicts. Furthermore, addiction creates deeply embedded memories of substance reward, and certain cues can trigger these memories, which in turn lead to obsessive thoughts and cravings. While some jobs increase exposure to the abused substance, others might simply involve more high-risk memory cues that can lead to cravings. For example, the cues might simply stem from working the same job one had during the substance abuse, and certain scenarios might recall memories of being high or drunk at work.

Employment for Recovering Addicts

The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published a study in 1991 that showed supportive co-workers play a significant role in promoting lasting recoveries. Another aspect to consider is the workplace environment itself, not just the type of work. A particular job might not have direct risk factors, but co-workers who party hard, create unnecessary friction and/or shame the recovering addict for his efforts can make a company less ideal. In the same way, a company with supportive co-workers and/or other recovering addicts can provide additional accountability and stability. Likewise, individuals who abused benzodiazepine-class sedatives like Xanax will want to avoid jobs with high levels of tension, stress and anxiety.

When pursuing new employment, recovering addicts should know they have certain legal protections. The government guide, Are You in Recovery from Alcohol or Drug Problems? Know your Rights, explains that employers cannot discriminate against recovering addicts who completed rehab and no longer use. Protections can also extend to non-users currently in a treatment program and individuals who legally take drugs as part of their recovery under the supervision of a licensed professional. In fact, a potential employer cannot ask applicants about past addiction issues, and using these issues against an employee can be illegal. All that said, these protections only apply to recovering addicts, not current or casual users, and illegal substance use that took place months prior can still be used as grounds for terminating or denying employment. In other words, quickly jumping into rehab to avoid job loss does not provide legal protection.

In any case, organizations like America in Recovery and the Job Accommodation Network can often assist recovering addicts with new job placement, and individuals can recruit help from local recovery support groups. Volunteering for community projects and nonprofit causes can also help people make contacts, improve experience, find leads and develop personal references.

Addiction and Recovery Help

Learning to ask for help is part of most recoveries, and it starts with tackling the addiction itself. Professional rehab is the most effective way to treat addiction, and our admissions coordinators can answer questions and provide information 24 hours a day. If treatment is necessary, we can also check health insurance policies for rehab benefits and discuss other financial support options. If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax addiction or wavering in recovery, please call our toll-free helpline now.

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If you are ready to beat a Xanax addiction and start a new life in recovery then we can help. We have admission counselors standing by 24 hours a day to take your email, live chat request, or phone call to get you in the addiction treatment center that best fits your unique & specific needs.