Being Upfront With Employers About Drug Usage

According to the New York Times, 8.1 percent of people nationwide had used an illicit substance during the height of the great recession. Drug addiction affects workers and employers, with both groups sharing the cost regardless of their actual habits. The cycle of drug usage and job searching is complicated, even more so if you are in recovery. Know the law, be honest with yourself about the goals of your recovery, and keep up the search. With some careful wording, a bit of honesty and some self-examination, you might be able to get the job even with a history of drug abuse.


Be Honest

The first thing to remember is that you are working to get better, you are trying to recover, and getting a job is a step toward making that happen. If you have been through rehab programs, prepare a story that sums up your experiences there and try to make your recovery a part of who you are. Honesty could easily disqualify you from a position that truly takes a zero tolerance policy on drug usage, past, present, or otherwise. Do not let these situations keep you down!

Know The Law

As a recovering drug user, you are protected under the Americans with Disabilities act. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to give you the chance to work for them, but this does not give you license to continue your drug usage. The ADA website very clearly states that a current drug user does not fall under the category of an “individual with a disability,” meaning employers can discard your application due to your usage of substances. Once you are a part of the company, an employer can ask you about your drug usage if he or she believes you are violating company policies. In situations like these, it’s best to be honest about what happened, because it is easier to honestly explain past drug usage than it is to explain why you lied about being able to pass a drug test.

Continue Job Hunting

It’s a fact that there are companies out there, Men’s Warehouse for instance, that do not drug test and are open to employees looking for second chances at a productive life. Continue working on your resume and try new things while you search for the career that you want. Picking up a part-time job as a service worker, or a telemarketer can lead to better opportunity with a bit of persistence. Show up to work on time, do a good job, and keep sending out resumes. Opportunity comes to those who work for it.

Be Diplomatic

It may seem inappropriate for an employer to come right out and ask about your drug usage, but the fact is that it could happen. There are ways to talk about your drug usage in a positive light, but there are also ways to answer the question without incriminating yourself. If you would rather avoid the question of drug usage altogether, respond with something like “it sounds like a drug-free workplace is important to you, and I can commit to that up front.” Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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