In recent years, millions of people have been negatively impacted by the seemingly sharp and ongoing downturn in the economy. Nowhere have these woes been felt more than in the country’s many addiction recovery programs, where the lack of jobs has severely hindered the recovery process. If men and women who are recovering from addiction cannot find employment, they are at greater risk for relapse, as they struggle to establish independence and to regain a sense of personal responsibility. Fortunately, for people seeking treatment at Phoenix Houses of the Mid-Atlantic (PHMA), there are services already established to provide a springboard to employment, cultivating the skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive job market.
Cheryl Jackson, the PHMA Vocational Counselor, who brings years of professional experience and training with her, including her current status as a Ph.D. candidate (in Human Services), and Derick Malis, PHMA Project Manager/Project Outreach Coordinator, who has over 30 years of experience in non-profit community outreach, have joined together to provide a weekly training seminar to clients in both the Phoenix and Demeter House programs. Every Tuesday, these men and women participate in an hour-long seminar, led by Derick , Cheryl, or a variety of subject matter experts within the D.C. community. The clients are taught networking, resume-writing, interviewing, customer-service, and other pertinent employment skills. Additionally, both members of the vocational team provide other integral support services, including linking clients to specific employers and training programs in the area. When asked about the impact of these services on client recovery, Derick commented, “It is hard to overstate the importance of employment to a client leaving treatment. The ability to support oneself and one’s family provides a tremendous amount of self-worth and value. Without work, self-esteem plummets, and combined with idle time, greatly increases the possibility of relapse. There is nothing more gratifying for me than to hear the thank you from an exuberant client who has just gotten a job.” Clients who participate in these vocational educational programs are indeed excited about reclaiming their lives. Finding employment proves to be an excellent support on the journey of recovery.