Working in Early Recovery: MARC Offers Full Vocational Programming
At Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, we believe that treating addiction and co-occurring disorders does not mean simply treating the symptoms of the disease of addiction, but rather must go much further, both to the underlying causes of addiction as well as the social, life skills, and employment skills development that many substance use disorder sufferers need. Because of this, one of the areas we focus heavily on for patients is academics, higher education, and workforce training and development. This is done through in the academic arena with our partnership with Caron Treatment Centers with our offering of the Caron College Success™ at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center program. In the area of employment, vocational, and career success, we offer a full vocational program. It is our belief that those suffering from addiction do better, and outcomes equate to successful long-term, sustainable recovery, when an individual is slowly and appropriate reintegrated back into their community with the necessary tools to find, keep, and continue employment, which is best done while still within the safe and supportive clinical environment of treatment.
Our vocational program, overseen be counselor Hobart Blankenburg, CSC-AD, is a community-reintegration process that teaches patients how to find a job that offers not simply employment and a paycheck, but rather direction and purpose. We want patients to find something that interests them and a job that excites them to go to when they wake up in the morning. The vocational program, with guidance and oversight, offers tools to find a job, prepare through resume-building, mock interviews, and appropriate engagement, interviews, employment, and then ongoing ways to learn how to navigate work while learning to live in early recovery.
Let’s take a look at the Maryland Addiction Recovery Center Vocational Program here, as well as some firsthand accounts of patients that engaged in and were successful in our vocational programming.
The MARC Vocational program is a multi-phase process which consists of identification of a patient’s interests and goals, job assessment, resume writing, mock interviews, and forming a budget. Eventually, when appropriate, Vocational patients apply for work and attend interviews by means of public transportation or getting rides from sober supports from the local community. It is part of MARC’s clinical philosophy that patients move from a state of dependence to independence and not rely on family or loved ones for financial support. This includes independence in finding their way to interviews and work. They are provided with a bus pass and basic emergency cell phone to make it to any job interviews that they have taken the action to apply for and set up with an employer. MARC has relationships with numerous local employers, that are recovery-friendly and supportive of patients working while still engaged in treatment. However, if a patient has other interests, they are welcome to apply to any job that may interest them, so long as the potential employment opportunity offers enough hours to make the necessary money at work to pay their new bills. Following an interview, if a patient is offered a job by an employer, the patient brings the opportunity to the vocational group, where it is discussed with clinical staff and peers before it can be accepted. Patients must make sure the potential job won’t interfere with their group hours or outside recovery support meeting schedule since their recovery, and their engagement in their personal recovery, must come first before work. Once hired and collecting a paycheck, they begin paying for their own transportation and cell phone service, further moving them to a state of independence, self-sufficiency, and being self-supporting.
Vocational patients from all phases are in group together twice weekly to discuss their progress and various obstacles they may have encountered while working in early recovery. In addition to weekly groups, the Vocational specialist meets with each patient individually once weekly to address individual concerns or needs. The Vocational program not only focuses on finding employment, bus also helping patients in recovery be independent and establish some footing before reentering life outside of treatment. When a patient is able to receive ongoing clinical support during the early days of their employment while in early recovery, the chances that they are able to navigate challenging situations and stressors become greater, creating a better chance of long-term recovery. The idea that, learning how to get and keep a job while in early recovery from addiction, will give patients the necessary skill set to continue both their recovery and their employment once they discharge from treatment. It lessens barriers and increases a patient’s experience that they are prepared to live a daily life successfully without the use of drugs and alcohol.
Now, let’s take a look at some experience’s patients have had with the MARC vocational program. Names have been changed for privacy purposes and experiences have been used with patient approval.
Britney is 29-year-old female alumni with a history of polysubstance use and opioid dependence who was admitted to MARC in early fall 2018 after relapsing in another treatment facility. Her longest period of sobriety had been 6 months. After a period of intensive and focused clinical work, Britney became eligible for MARC’s vocational program.
Britney entered the Vocational program with a lot of experience in the field of Cosmetology. Prior to treatment, she owned her own salon but lost it due to her addiction. During her time in Vocational group, staff helped transfer her out of state Cosmetology license and revamp her resume.’ She applied to several salons and was called into many interviews where each one made her an offer. The place she chose was a smaller business with greater opportunity for advancement. Britney has already moved up the ranks and helped another Vocational member get a job there as well.
“The vocational program at MARC gave me exactly what I needed to transition into a secure job that supported my recovery. I was taught the correct way to build my resume, the correct way to communicate in the workplace, but most importantly I had a place to talk about any challenges I was facing as I started working.”
Scott is a 23-year-old male who spent time in 12 treatment settings beginning in November 2016 until he ended up at MARC in November 2018. He had been using opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants, marijuana, and alcohol for several years and his longest period of sobriety was 2 months. Scott struggled with managing feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger and had severely strained family relationships. He progressed to MARC’s vocational program in May 2019.
Scott entered the Vocational program with most of his work experience being from his father’s construction company. He wanted to continue in a similar field where he could work and stay physically fit. He was offered a job at the 2nd interview he attended and now works for a local moving company. Scott is very happy there and was given a raise after only 2 months of being employed. He has gone out of his way to make himself indispensable at this job and it has paid off.
“I think after a long process of residential treatment at MARC, the vocational program is set perfectly. The concept of easing you back into everyday life is key for success, at least for a person like me. It is very structured and involved. I never once felt like I ran under the radar which is a plus for me. I felt that things happened at exactly the right time and Hobart kept it real and always is there if I need anything. Compared to a lot of places I have been MARC definitely takes the cake as far as turning my life in a new positive direction. Thanks again Hobart, Arielle, Sarah and all the MARC staff.”
Juliette is a 32-year-old female who transferred to MARC In October 2018 after spending 4 months in residential treatment following detox from opioids and benzodiazepines. She was raised in a chaotic and abusive alcoholic home and experienced several traumas. She had never been sober outside of a treatment setting. When it was time for her to move into the vocational program in April, Juliette was dead set on returning to waitressing, which she had done on and off for about 7 years.
She applied to several front desk, secretary, and restaurant positions. Based on her experience, she was offered a job as a waitress, which she desperately wanted to accept. The Vocational team informed her she could not take this position as it is high stress and is the same environment she worked in during active addiction. With reluctance, she turned down the offer and continued to apply for different jobs. On a whim she applied to a bank, not thinking she would ever be considered. However, the hiring manager loved her spirit and ability to connect with clients, so they offered Juliette a position. She accepted and has since become one of their top performers and is very close to becoming a manager. Juliette is very happy with her job and regularly expresses gratitude to MARC for pushing her into unfamiliar territory.
“The vocational program at MARC was so beneficial to me and my success in recovery after inpatient treatment. They pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and aim for a job that would be more conducive to my recovery and set me up for a good life-long term. I was so satisfied with the support from the staff members, the entire team was involved with important decisions during my process. Thanks MARC!”
Craig is 21-year-old male alumni who was admitted to MARC when he was 19 years old following a 28 day stay in primary treatment for abuse of DXM, amphetamines, and marijuana. He experienced numerous transitions growing up as his family moved repeatedly in and out of the US due to his parents’ careers. Craig withdrew from college a few months prior to treatment due to a substance induced manic episode.
When he started in the vocational program, his only previous work experience was in construction for about 2 months. Craig couldn’t keep a clean room, wake up on time, or maintain basic hygiene. During his time in Vocational, he learned how to do all these things and got a job working at a restaurant supply store. He was at there for about a year before finding another job he likes even more. In addition, Craig is now a sober support and MARC alumni who new patients look up to.
“When I got to MARC, I didn’t know how to apply to a job, hold a job, or even wake up on time for a job. The vocational program set me up to build a solid resume, send in job applications, and make follow up calls. Even though the first job I got at MARC was temporary, the information and knowledge I gained in the process has helped me get and hold several more jobs, and even enroll in college.”
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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@example.com. 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.
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