Guide to Talking with a Job Applicant About Addiction History

We know now at this time that drug and alcohol addiction is a very serious issue and concern in our society, one of which is possibly worse now than it ever has been before.  We know and understand that this issue is actually huge and that it brings huge problems and crisis factors with it everywhere that it goes.

We know that since the turn of the century drug and alcohol addiction has stepped up and made itself into one of the single most if not the single most concerning and problematic issues in our entire nation.  We know that the issue with addiction as we have experienced it is certainly huge and that this is a crisis problem that will only get worse unless we do something about it.

From all that we know about how bad drug and alcohol addiction is, we can then extrapolate from that that, sooner or later as a business owner, you are going to come across someone who you are interviewing who has had a drug or alcohol addiction problem in their history.  Maybe this has already happened to you.  Maybe you already have some idea of how to support a drug addict in recovery.  Maybe you already know how to talk to an addict, or to someone who has abused drugs and alcohol in the past.  Either way, this issue has to be approached with care and consternation and a great deal of empathy too.

Addiction Support in the Workplace

Someone having a history of drug and alcohol addiction in their past is by no means a good reason to disqualify them from working for you.  By no means at all does that make sense.  In fact, the best way to address drug and alcohol addiction in someone’s past is to see how it can benefit them and how they can grow from it.

For me personally, I often try to find people to work in my businesses who are in recovery, because I know what they have been through and I know how capable they are now as a result.  I’m not the only one who does this too.  Follow these quick tips to ensure that you consider the recovering addict’s application correctly:

  1. Find out how long they have been sober for. The longer they have been sober, the less you have to worry, if you were planning on worrying at all.
  1. Find out what it was they were addicted to, and how much they were taking. Really get an idea of just how bad their addiction was, so you can get a feel for what they were going through at that time.
  1. Talk to them about how their addiction affected their lives and impacted them. Find out from them just what exactly they can take away from their addiction, and just what exactly they can actually learn from it.
  1. Find out what the person can bring to the table at your business, and how they are going to use their experience with their addiction to really dominate the marketplace that your business is in.
  1. Question the person closely as to their stability in recovery. Have they had any relapses?  If so, when?  Find out from them how stable they feel or don’t feel in their recovery.

Asking these questions and simply holding a conversation with the person should give you a really good idea as to how they are doing in their recovery.  Don’t be afraid to ask these questions too.  There is nothing wrong with asking them.  Talk to the person about it, and really get a feel for how they are doing in their recovery, and then make your final decision as to whether or not you want to hire them.  Most of the time you will want to hire them.