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Substance Abuse Treatment

The Case for Providing Job Training Opportunities
Substance abuse is a major public health issue in
the United States aecting millions of individuals
and families as well as the communities in which
they reside. For example, recent national statistics
show that about 17 million Americans have
alcoholism or alcohol-related problems (NIDA,
2012). Furthermore, nearly one out of four (21%)
adults in the U.S. have abused prescription drugs
as some point during their lifetime (NIDA, 2011).
Recommended treatment approaches for
substance abuse problems are generally in-
patient or out-patient services (depending on the
severity of the substance abuse) with trained
medical and mental health professionals and care
which is individualized to the needs of the
particular person (NIDA, 2009).
Furthermore, eective substance abuse
treatment are those which are more holistic in
nature and attend to the needs of the whole
person (NIDA, 2009). For example, it is now
recognized that services like medically-
supervised drug detoxication are not enough to
maintain success over the long term for
substance abuse and is just the beginning of the
process of treatment. Stopping drug abuse and
maintaining abstinence is more likely to be
achieved if drug treatment attends to needs such
as a person mental health needs (e.g.,
psychological issues which led to abusing drugs
in the rst place), spiritual needs (e.g., connecting
to a higher power to help maintain abstinence),
and social support needs (e.g., receiving positive
support from one's family and friends). Indeed,
attending to such needs and incorporating them
into a larger relapse prevention strategy from the
onset of treatment can signicantly increase the
chances of successful outcomes for those
recovering from drug addictions.
According to the National Institute on Drug
Abuse (NIDA), one of the major principles of
eective substance abuse treatment is that
eective treatment attends to multiple needs of
the individual, not just his or her drug abuse
(NIDA, 2009, p.2). To this end, it is argued here
that the primary reason that job training needs to
be available to those in substance abuse recovery
is to help such clients maintain a drug-free
lifestyle as they move forward and strive for
better lives. Making job-training programs widely
available and ideally on-site at drug treatment
centers can help clients maintain a drug-free
lifestyle by giving them valuable skills (which
they may not otherwise receive) that can lead to
employment. And with employment comes more
responsibility and reasons to remain drug-free,
less time to engage in drug activity, and more
focus on something positive and productive.
Furthermore, having job skills and successful
employment may help raise the self-esteem and
self-ecacy levels of clients in recovery from
drug use. In this case, self-ecacy refers to
condence in one's ability to successfully obtain
and maintain employment, as well as remain
Value to Clients
Providing job training opportunities as a part of
substance abuse treatment is not just valuable to
clients who are in recovery but may also give
value to service providers such as local mental
health professionals and administrators of
substance abuse treatment centers. If you
yourself are a provider, there are many reasons to
consider providing such a component for those
in recovery. For one, providing job training
opportunities to such clients can help you gain
professional experience that can lead to state
certications and boost your résumé. An example
of a certication is that oered by PARfessionals.
We oer an online training for those interested in
becoming certied as a Peer Recovery Support
Specialist, Peer Recovery Coach, or Addictions
Recovery Coach. For more information about this
training, please visit
An aspect of substance abuse treatment that is
often overlooked is the need for those in recovery
to reintegrate themselves into their families and
communities as more productive and
contributing citizens. And a major way to do so is
through one's job. Indeed, having stable
employment can serve as an important part of a
person's relapse prevention plan for several
reasons. The main purpose of this article is to
present some of these reasons and make the case
that providing job training opportunities for
those in recovery from substance abuse is
valuable to clients (i.e., those in recovery), service
providers, and local communities.
drug-free. Through job training services, clients
can come to view themselves as more worthy of
living their ideal lives and condent that they
have the skills to actually make this happen. Thus,
job training can be a powerful tool for
empowering clients and achieving real success!
Such training may be particularly needed and
valuable to clients who have been marginalized
within their families and/or communities. For
example, in addition to the stigma that often
exists for those who have struggled with
substance abuse, stigma often exists for ethnic
minorities, low-income citizens, ex-oenders
(e.g., citizens with a criminal record), and those
within the LGBT community. Thus, empowerment
through education and job training may be
particularly valuable for clients from these groups
in order to help them regain (or nd) their footing
and value within their communities.
Value to Providers
ReShaping the Faces and Voices of Recovery
Providing job training opportunities as a part of
substance abuse treatment is also a great way to
give back to your community in a way that you
may not currently do so, but already know a lot
about. As a service provider, chances are that you
already have a lot of knowledge and skills needed
to gain and maintain employment such as
résumé-writing, how to be successful during job
interviews, and how to build a professional
network. However, many people who are
recovering from substance abuse do not already
have such skills and yet have a great need for
them in order to maintain their substance abuse
As a service provider, another reason to consider
oering job training opportunities within your
community to those in recovery from substance
abuse is to help address the problems that some
drug treatment centers face in a shortage of
resources to serve clients. Due to many reasons
like lack of funding, public support, and high sta
turnover, many existing treatment centers do not
have the resources they need to serve the
multiple needs of clients and provide services like
job training. Thus, as a service provider you can
help your local substance abuse treatment
professional community by helping such clients
obtain the job placement and career skills they
need to reintegrate back into the community and
maintain a drug-free lifestyle.
Finally, as a service provider you should consider
providing job training opportunities to those
recovering from substance abuse because it will
broaden your knowledge base and give you a
richer understanding of the multiple needs of
your clients. People who nd themselves in
substance abuse treatment have unique life
experiences and stories about the circumstances
which led to their drug use. And issues around
education and job/career training are a
frequently overlooked yet critical area which can
provide an understanding of the factors that led
to a client's problems on the one hand, yet on the
other hand can led to a client's long term success
and sobriety. As a provider and advocate for job
Providing job training opportunities for those in
recovery from substance abuse is valuable not
just to clients (i.e., those in recovery) and service
providers, but also to local communities and
ultimately society at large. For one, job training
opportunities for those recovering from drug
and/or alcohol abuse helps local communities by
producing more citizens who have education and
job skills needed to ll positions in the
community. This can in turn lead to higher
employment rates within communities and more
services available for everyone in the community.
Furthermore, higher employment rates can lead
to lower crime rates, as employment provides
legal and productive ways for people to obtain
the resources they need and helps prevent the
need to use crime to do so. For ex-oenders (i.e.,
those who have committed crimes in the past)
job training opportunities can help reduce
recidivism rates the same reasons.
Another reason that providing job training
opportunities for those in recovery from
substance abuse is valuable to local communities
is because it helps maintain healthy families.
Indeed, those who have the skills needed to nd
and maintain employment are better able to
provide for their families. This is particularly
important for those who are in recovery and have
children, as having employment helps them to
raise healthy children. Ultimately then, job
training opportunities for clients in recovery from
substance abuse benets not just individual
clients, but also their families, communities, and
all of society.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2009).
Treatment approaches for drug addiction.
Retrieved from
reatment_approaches_ 2009_to_nida_92209.pdf.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2011).
Prescription drugs: Abuse and addiction. [NIH
Publication Number 11-4881]. Retrieved from
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2012).
Drug facts: Nationwide trends. Retrieved from
About the Author
Dr. April McDowell is a couple and family therapist in Silver
Spring, MD, just outside of Washington, D.C. She has been
working with individuals, couples, and families in private
practice since 2007. She is a graduate of the University of
North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of
Maryland. Her accomplishments include years of experience
conducting social science research, national conference
presentations, and two peer-reviewed publications to date.
In addition to her clinical work provides research and writing
consulting services. For more information, visit her website at
This synopsis is funded by SJM Family Foundation for PARfessionals: Peer Advocates for
Recovery, Inc. Copyright 2014 by SJM Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
Value to Local Communities
training opportunities, you can enrich your
client's lives in new and highly valuable ways and
give yourself the gift of becoming a more
competent and eective service provider.
In summary, the main purpose of this article was
to make the case for providing job training
opportunities for those in recovery from
substance abuse. In an attempt to demonstrate
its value to clients (i.e., those in recovery), service
providers, and local communities several reasons
and examples have been provided here. The
intent and hope is that all people who are in
recovery nd the resources they need to address
their multitude of treatment needs and lead
successful, productive, and enriched drug-free
lives for the long term.
Global Addictions Recovery Collaboration Partners