For people in recovery, finding an employer who will give them a chance—despite holes in their employment history—can be a real challenge.
“Being in a positive work environment where my recovery was always put first was hard to find,” said Chloe Swerdlow, 37, of Sebago. “I’m a really good employee, but there were gaps in my employment. It took me a long time to explain that and not be ashamed of my answer. In the beginning, it was necessary for me to put myself out there and trust the process that whatever job I could get while being honest was the job meant for me. When you’re abusing, you’re generally not practicing honest principles. It takes a while to rewire your thinking.”
She started out with what she describes as a “get well job” at a small grocer—a role that was simple and stress-free and paid just about enough to pay her rent at a sober living home. She met her now husband, Adam Swerdlow, through friends in the recovery community, and she’s been sober three years, married for two. Today they both work in the treatment field, Chloe as a business development consultant for Granite Recovery Centers and Adam as a recovery support specialist at Green Mountain Treatment Center in Effingham, N.H.
“What my addiction looks like is that I quickly become unemployable,” said Adam Swerdlow, who, at 35, has been sober five years. “Through my poor choices, I had to spend some time in prison. As a result, my resume looks really weird with these gaps everywhere.”
But, by being totally honest, Adam Swerdlow got a job right out of prison—not his dream job, but immediate employment. When that business closed, his AA sponsor offered him a job at a car dealership. Then, in October 2018, he was hired as a recovery support specialist at Green Mountain Treatment Center in Effingham, New Hampshire.
“If you had told me two years into my sobriety that I’d have a wife, a small child and another child on the way, and a dog and I’d own a house, I never would have believed you,” he says. “But if you look at the ‘why,’ it’s helping others. When I’m using, I’m the most self-centered person. But when I’m helping others, things fall into place. Every day I’m grateful for all of it.”
“We wake up every morning and have to pinch ourselves,” Chloe Swerdlow said. “We’re really content and happy and are able to use our experiences to help other people.”