Should difficult child disclose time spent in rehab when applying for a job?


New Member
I posted some months ago asking for advice on appealing our insurance carrier's denial of coverage for difficult child's Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) treatment. First, I want to say thank you for all the helpful advice I got in response. Second, an update: my first level appeal was denied. (It was as if they did not even read the long and detailed appeal letter I wrote, but why am I not surprised?) Next step: an external appeal. I am not overly hopeful, but I am not yet ready to give up the fight.

I am back now with another practical question: now that difficult child is back home and looking for a job, after three months of rehab, how does he handle his time in rehab on job applications and on his resume? Should he disclose it, maybe trying to give it a positive spin, or not? If not, how does he explain the huge gap in his (extremely limited) work experience?

More detail (maybe too much to read!): difficult child, who just turned 20, graduated high school two years ago. He had been admitted to college, but decided to defer admission for a year to try to get some real-life experience (i.e., a job) and just to have a break from academics. (He is a smart, creative kid, but has ADD and the resulting executive function issues, which made school a trial -- for him and his parents!). The plan to take a gap year was approved by his college and by husband and me.

Unfortunately, things did not go well. It took difficult child forever (like, six months) to finally get a job. It was in a fast-food restaurant, which was fine, so once he got the job, I figured -- well, it took him way too long to get the job, but now that he has it, maybe things will look up. He actually did seem to like the job, but I realized after a while that he just wasn't getting called in often. Finally, he was told that he could hand out flyers in front of the restaurant for as many hours a week as he wanted. This was in the middle of a freezing cold period in the dead of winter, and he could not stand doing it for long. Finally, he quit the job, with plans to look for another.

I found out much later that the reason he was eased out of that job was that one day he had come into work high, and he told his manager that! (He is honest, at least, but obviously does not have good judgment.) His manager actually liked difficult child -- he is at heart a good, very likeable kid -- and for that reason, did not fire him on the spot, and instead gave him the option of handing out flyers.

So within just a couple months, difficult child was out of work. He looked for another job very half-heartedly. Meanwhile, he started up a very intense relationship with a young woman who is four years older than he is. She is smart and beautiful, and he loved her very much, but -- she is a drug user, and was just not good for him. After a few months she broke up with difficult child, and he took it badly. He ended up pretty seriously depressed, and early last summer, ended up spending ten days in a psychiatric facility.

It was in a family therapy session at the psychiatric facility that I learned how serious difficult child's drug use was. I should have known, I know -- I was so blind to all the signs! But anyway, at least I finally knew. (His drug-of-choice is marijuana, although he has used other drugs as well.)

Once difficult child was discharged from the psychiatric facility, his gap year was almost over, and it was time for him to start college. The question we were faced with was whether he was ready to go to college, or should he go into serious drug rehab instead? In consultation with his regular psychiatrist and another psychiatrist who specializes in addiction treatment, husband and I decided to send him off to college, in hopes that he was ready for a fresh start. I did know, though, that this experiment might fail.

So difficult child started in college, a small liberal arts college several states away. He loved it there, and was doing very, very well at first. As the weeks went by, though, his grades began to fall. He admitted to his adviser (a wonderful and wise woman) that he was using marijuana pretty much every day. She suggested that he take a medical leave of absence to deal with his substance abuse problems. difficult child agreed, and was back home after just seven weeks of college.

difficult child was initially on board with the rehab plan, but once he got home, he decided that he did not need it, after all. husband and I finally told him that he had a choice: go to rehab, or go out on his own. He chose to be on his own, and for a couple months, just couch-surfed with friends. (He's lucky he has a lot of friends, but unlucky that so many of them are drug users.) Finally, in January of this year, he got tired of the couch-surfing life, and agreed to go to rehab.

He did one month of primary care in an Residential Treatment Facility (RTF), but then refused to go to extended care. So he did another month of being on his own, before agreeing to extended care. He finally went to the extended care Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) for a two-month stay, which he recently finished. He is back home, in recovery, and wants to find another job (probably fast-food).

So here we are, two full years after he graduated college, and his only job experience is a few months at a fast food place about a year and a half ago. He just wasted a lot of the rest of the time, and also spent a total of three months in residential rehab.

Is there any chance he can get hired with that kind of resume??? He has asked me for advice, and I don't really know what to say. Maybe the best bet is for him just to be honest, but -- I don't see him getting a lot of job offers that way.

Anyone been there done that, and have any advice??:smile:
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New Member
NEVER put rehab on a resume or application.

Reality is that at his age, and in this economy, having such a gap is pretty normal. If asked. He tried college, wasn't the right thing for him at the time and he's been hunting for work - this economy is brutal.


Well-Known Member
NEVER put rehab on a resume or application.
Same for most medical issues...
Unless it is somebody else's issues - e.g. "off for a year to care for child being treated for cancer"... and even then you have to tread carefully.


Well-Known Member
Agree completely with Keista. my difficult child was in the same position although she only graduated high school. She tried college, got suspended for drug use, went to rehab for three months, started community college, relapsed, flunked out, went to sober house and relapsed again. She has had several jobs in between and did not tell about rehab.

With the economy as it is it is not unusual to have big gaps. He should build up his resume by highlighting the good parts. If asked about gap he can say he hasnt been able to find a job in his field,and has been doing odd jobs until economy gets better.

We found that with difficult child applying for entry level jobs they don't even ask about gap.

In our day gaps in working were a much bigger deal than they are today.



New Member
Good point, InsaneCdn.

Nancy, it's very encouraging to hear about your difficult child's experience. Reading these replies, I can see now that gaps are not so terrible when applying for jobs, especially entry level ones, in this economy.


I understand the need not to bring up rehab. I just want to inject something my son's rehab emphasized to me. They said I must be totally honest. Their point is that addicts lie and seeing me lie at all...or encouraging him to even twist the truth can endanger his sobriety.

Not trying to add to your burdens but is there a way to find a statement that is true, yet preserves his privacy?

My son found his job through someone at a meeting. He was told to mention it to the manager as he is also in recovery. The more I know of recovery, the more I see how they help each other. Your son might ask at a few meetings if anyone has any tips for him to please talk to him after the meetings.


Well-Known Member
Many of those in recovery get their jobs through others in the program, they encourage that. There is one little diner that a couple who are both in recovery own and they hire only others in recovery. However great it would be to be completely honest with prospective employers, it just doesn't work that way around here. I'm not advocating lying but there are things that just shouldn't be told to prospective employers. Even though there are laws that should protect workers against discrimination it happens all the time. Employers cannot ask about health conditions for a reason, I'm pretty sure that difficult child would never get a job if she offered that she had been in a treatment facility.

One of the things I was most excited about in the health care reform was getting rid o fthe preexisting conditions clause. That clause alone kept us from getting health covereage and when we finally did we had to pay $38,000 a year. I don't think a lot of employers would want to take on an employee in a high risk category of they had a choice.

It's a double edged sword for sure, tryng to be open and honest in all your dealings and yet knowing that by doing so it will be very difficult to find employment.



Well-Known Member
I also think one should never give that kind of information to prospective employers. And if asked, one should lie.

There is honesty and then there is shooting yourself in the foot. One should not engage with latter.


Well-Known Member
This discussion reminds me of the old adage - not "always" true, but food for thought:
Before words pass your lips, consider three things:
- is it true
- is it kind
- is it necessary

To me, the whole disclosure of personal problems falls into that last category... don't tell unless necessary.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
The addiction counselor we have been seeing told my difficult child that her health issues (including mental health) were covered by Hippa laws and that she was under no obligation to tell her employer about them.

I agree with Nancy that most employers would not give someone in recovery a chance. My difficult child just explains the gaps in her employment record as times when she went back to school. No one has really ever even checked with past employers or been concerned with the gaps in employment. At least that is true in the salon industry.



New Member
I personally believe that any medical/abuse issues are covered under HIPPA. Especially in this economy. Why give an employer a reason to be scared off?