Getting Over the Past and Starting Over in A New Career

People make mistakes. Opioid abuse, drug addiction and past criminal decisions derail millions of American lives.

It’s not easy, but lives can be repaired. Through job training, former felons or addicts may have the opportunity to right the wrongs of bad decisions by starting over in a new career.

When starting over, it’s best to start with self-reflection and self-care. Before adding any additional stressors to your situation, build a strong support foundation. That may begin with finding a network of peers who will help you steer clear from criminal activity, or if you’re currently using, that may mean seeking treatment for your addiction.

“If someone is a current user, I would suggest seeking counseling and treatment before pursuing workforce training,” said Tamara Davidson, a FastForward Career Coach at Mountain Empire Community College. “The college environment can be extremely stressful and could cause an increase in usage.”

Melissa Marcus, a coach at Virginia Western Community College, seconds that advice.

“[A student] will likely not be successful with a current substance abuse problem.”

Even if you’re not a habitual user, occasional drug use can also get in the way of starting a new career – particularly when a company does background checks and drug screenings.

So what can you do to set yourself up for success before starting FastForward training, or any other academic endeavors? Here are a few resources that may help.

  • Specific industries have rules in place about what charges/crimes are barriers to being hired. Before enrolling in training or applying to a job, research the company or industry to determine your eligibility. For example, Virginia’s Department of Health has a barrier crimes list you can reference.
  • Local health department or city government websites may have opioid recovery programs, or you can check out Psychology Today’s database, which compiles many of the local programs in Virginia.
  • Once you’re clean, find a Narcotics Anonymous meeting near you for continual support. And, remember, even casual, sporadic drug use may be enough to raise red flags during job-related screening tests.
  • StartYourRecovery.org helps people take steps toward a healthy relationship with drugs and alcohol.
  • HardestHitVA is a Virginia-resource that features Virginians sharing their own stories of addiction, overdose, and recovery.

Once you’re on the road to recovery, contact a FastForward Career Coach to discuss how to get on the right path to a new career.