Addiction Recovery Belongs On A Resume

Jef DeWitt Jef DeWitt Follow Dec 13, 2021 · 2 mins read
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Here are the top-5, ‘must-have’ resume sections, according to Michael Tomaszewski, Career Expert at Zety (Tomaszewski, 2021):

  • Personal Information: 99.85% of resumes.
  • Work Experience: 98.33%
  • Education: 97.25%
  • Skills: 89.81%
  • Summary or Objective: 88.75%

Where would addiction recovery fall? Under personal information? Or is it a skill?

The point of resumes is to sell our accomplishments. So why not sell recovering from addiction? It’s a pretty big deal.

The Personal Level

I don’t have it on my resume. Now, I’m examining why.

Is it because it’s too personal? Does addiction connote a flaw in character or discipline? Is it too uncomfortable to talk about?

I guess I could pretty-it-up and say that I am a ‘recovery specialist’ or ‘passionate mental health advocate’. But that misses the point. It feels like I’m contributing to the continued stigmatization of the issue by dressing it up in more socially acceptable clothes.

I worry that the words addiction or substance abuse or mental health (outside of applying for a position in counseling or psychology) are red flags. I fear that the reader thinks of addict behavior portrayed in TV, movies. Or they will read the word addiction or substance abuse without seeing the word recovery.

The Other Side

But for those in recovery, addiction is only half the story. What gets missed here are the skills gained. Modifying behavior over the long term is not an easy thing to do. Improving yourself (i.e., surviving) through accepting hard truths is a critical skill. If being able to change a way of life and unhelpful personality traits isn’t a success story, I don’t know what is.

My fight to get sober taught me the importance of healthy mindsets. This developed a deep curiosity toward understanding human connection. And it required improving the quality of personal and professional relationships.

Talking about addiction, mental health struggles, lack of confidence, and shame helps me accept who I am. And this equates to better performance. Not doing so leads to being furtive, afraid to speak up, and leaving important decisions to those who are more ‘qualified’. It is 100% relevant to professional success.

I’m An Addict

I’m biased. I’m in recovery from addiction. But I stand behind my conviction that living in recovery is a lifestyle full of marketable skills that translate across many fields.

Accepting the realities of substance abuse means taking ownership. It means accepting responsibility and accountability. It means living by example.

How do you view those living in recovery?


Tomaszewski, M. (April 4, 2021). Resume Statistics 2021 (Analysis of 133,000 Documents).

Jef DeWitt
Written by Jef DeWitt