Life skills, the ability to meet responsibilities, and learning to be self-sufficient are several vital pieces of adulthood that many people that suffer from addiction and co-occurring disorders often have issues with. By nature, addiction makes the addicted person have difficulty meeting these daily responsibilities. Addiction treatment is often considered the place where a person receives clinical services to deal with the substance use disorder and mental health issues that they may be suffering from, and then early recovery is where most individuals try to learn the necessary skills that help them meet responsibilities, get and keep employment, and learn to be independent and self-sufficient.
However, if addiction touches every aspect of an individual’s life, at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center we believe it should be the role of the treatment center to begin the necessary process of not only identifying and overcoming clinical issues, but also learning and implementing life skills such as academic goals or employment. We understand that as a longer-term program, we are blessed to have patients with us receiving care in a long-term continuum, which allows us the time to support them in their academic or career needs.
For any patient that enters our extended care Community Living Treatment Program, we offer two avenues for beginning and achieving these educational or work-related goals. The first is for any person, typically young adults, that have academic goals in mind. These are often patients that need to complete a high school education, have never went to an institution of higher learning, failed out or had to drop out of college early due to their addiction, or have aspirations of attending graduate school. This is our partnership with Caron Treatment Centers. The Caron’s College Success™ at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center.
The second avenue is our comprehensive Vocational Program. This avenue offers support for any patient regardless of their previous work history: young people that never had a career and just need an early recovery job, an individual with a career who needs to learn how to reenter their employment while in recovery, or those individuals that may have had a career but have made the determination that their chosen career will no longer support their recovery.
MARC’s Vocational Program is overseen by clinical team member Kyle Aaron, M.Ed, LCPC. Kyle works in conjunction with MARC Clinical Director Dr. Jennifer Richards and each patient’s primary therapist, to support and coach each patient in our vocational program with the specific needs they may have and goals and objectives they wish to achieve related to their work in early recovery.
The Maryland Addiction Recovery Center vocational program is a comprehensive approach to vocational and employment skill development, and much more than job training. Throughout this program, while in treatment, patients will go through a process that teaches the necessary life skills for independence and self-sufficiency, guiding patients on a journey of self-discovery, purpose, and direction. A process that will begin in early recovery and while in treatment, but hopefully one that these patients carry with them through their long-term recovery.
The MARC vocational program transitions a patient from full treatment programming, at the patient’s pace and engagement in clinical programming, into the next phase of recovery which includes demonstrating necessary life skills and employment. The vocational program offers a patient-centered, one-on-one customized approach to real life issues that for many people can often be a barrier to recovery once they leave treatment.
The MARC vocational program includes a phased system to transition them slowly and appropriately from full clinical programming into employment, while they step down in clinical intensity into an intensive outpatient (IOP) level of care and begin working while in treatment. Throughout this vocational process, patients are guided and supported to learn the necessary skillset to search for, find, and acquire employment, handle the responsibility of a job while learning to live in recovery, face the normal stressors of a work life, and use their income to begin handling their financial responsibilities of rent, food, and other necessities. For many patients, they learn professional behavior and attire, job search and interview skills through support and mock interviews, how to build a resume, how to approach employment as a person in recovery with a history of addiction and potential gaps of employment in their resume, interaction with employers and supervisors and an employee, and how to budget their income appropriately. Patients that may also have outstanding debt or financial responsibility elsewhere receive necessary support and guidance. Once employed, patients will create a customized treatment schedule that clinically supports them to meet their employment schedule and their treatment schedule. Throughout this entire vocational process while at MARC, patients learn how to live on their own, with the necessary clinical support of Vocational Specialist Kyle Aaron and their individual therapist, so that the stressors of real work responsibilities that can often cause relapse or create barriers to recovery are successfully navigated and significantly diminished.
One of the major focuses of the MARC vocational program is helping patients identify areas of work that are interesting to them and help them finding direction, meaning, and purpose. While some people are in need of an easy “recovery job”, we believe that patients should find employment that supports their interests, their skillset, and is a job that offers them enthusiasm when they wake up in the morning. We attempt to support each patient and they make a determination on a job or a career path, and believe each patient should be excited about their employment, the job they have, and the company they work for on a daily basis.
Patients in the MARC extended care Community Living Treatment program move into the vocational program and track once they demonstrate:
- That they are engaged in their treatment process and plan
- That they have met certain patient-centered treatment goals
- That they have been active participants in group therapy and individual therapy
- That they have engaged in community-based recovery outside the clinical treatment setting
- That they have learned to communicate with staff, their family, and the other members of the patient community maturely and appropriately, which includes being respectful of others
- They can be medication compliant, when applicable
- That they can keep their apartment and living spaces clean, presentable, and respectful
- They have, for a sustained time, been leader or role model to other members of the patient community
- They have gone out of their way to help others and make new patient community members feel welcomed at MARC
Phases of the MARC Vocational Program
During Pre-Vocational, a patient that has been engaged in clinical programming for some time will assess their skills through completion of MARC’s pre-vocational packet and acquire all necessary items or materials needed to successfully start the vocational process. Some of these items may include a driver’s license or identification car, appropriate professional attire, and all necessary information an employer may ask for during an interview or hiring process
During Phase 1 of MARC’s vocational program, patients will begin attending two vocational group sessions per week and begin meeting individually with Vocational Therapist Kyle Aaron. It is during Phase 1 that patients will begin building a resume if they do not already have one, practice interview skills or begin mock interviews, search for employment, set and attend job interviews, and ultimately find employment at a job that suits their individual needs, interests and passion.
In Phase 2, patients will be actively employed and stay in good standing with their job and employer. During Phase 2, patients will begin to experience more freedom while in treatment, lessening treatment intensity while continuing to attend vocational group and being an active member of the group. This includes openly discussing how their job is going, what they are being successful at while at work, where they are struggling, and any difficulties or stressors they are experiencing. During this time, patients will be signed up for and utilize at True Link Card so that the Vocational Therapist can see and monitor their spending habits and help them, if necessary, to learn and sustain budgeting skills.
During Phase 3 of the vocational process, patients continue their employment while attending vocational groups when possible or necessary, and meet individually with Vocational Therapist Kyle Aaron twice monthly for any necessary support, guidance, and direction. Patients at this phase will achieve even more freedom and experience even more independence, while receiving less monitoring from MARC staff. All patients, however, will continue to have full access to clinical, medical, and vocational support.
It is the ideal scenario for any patient in MARC’s vocational program, that they experience all the pitfalls of working in early recovery while still in treatment at MARC. As they pass through the phases of the Vocational Program, they will learn how to approach, successfully navigate, and appropriately handle any issues that may come up. Because of this, patients will successfully learn to become self-sufficient, independent, and meet all necessary responsibilities while still getting vital support from the MARC team. This process sets patients up for success, because when they discharge from treatment, the barriers to recovery have been removed, they have already demonstrated the necessary skills to navigate early recovery issues, and their life is already working. Through this process, when patients leave treatment, they are already demonstrating the ability of being a productive member of society.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.