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Everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how they got to where they are today. If there is a need to start over and try again, people deserve an opportunity to give it a shot, especially if their intentions are to remedy past wrongs whenever possible and begin in a fresh, positive direction.
Though theoretically most would agree that second chances are an important part of growing and learning, when it comes to drug addiction and crime, stigma very often limits the opportunities of those who are ready to start over in recovery – especially if they have a felony history due to choices made under the influence.
What might you face in your journey to recovery, and how can you best overcome those obstacles?
According to the American Bar Association, there are about 45,000 obstacles facing those who are released after being incarcerated for a choice related to drug addiction. Some of these obstacles include:
It is true that these sanctions and others that stop people in recovery from accessing the same resources that anyone else may use to better their lives are unfair. It is also true that these obstacles can limit opportunities to achieve the basics in life – food, shelter, education and employment – and again, this fact is not fair. There is a great deal of legislation [e.g., Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), REDEEM Act, REAL Act] and other movements in the works that are focused on remedying these issues and opening up the playing field to those who demonstrate that their past with addiction, criminal and otherwise, is most assuredly in the past, and that they are focused on living a life that is defined by sobriety and positive choices.
However, waiting for these changes to take place and then, if passed, to be implemented and become accessible may not be the best approach. The fact is that you don’t need any of these programs to get your life back on track. There are numerous ways to get over that initial hump after getting out of jail and to begin to move forward in creating the life that is most authentically you. For example, you can:
What options have you found to get through the first year in recovery after jail or prison time? What tips can you offer others in the same position?