Recovery builds a sense of dedication that shows on the job

Columnist Kristen Asleson says giving someone a chance when they are in long-term recovery means not giving up on people who are working hard in their lives.

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September is National Recovery Month, which began in 1989. Throughout the month, there are educational opportunities, activities such as walk-a-thons and fundraisers, as well as celebrations for those who walk that path.

Along with those opportunities, it is a month utilized to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices.

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Do you know someone in recovery? Have you had the privilege of knowing or working with someone who has beat their substance use disorder?

Back several years when I was an office manager, I hired a front office coordinator who was in recovery, and the response from the business owner was disheartening at best. He said, “Why do we have an addict in recovery working at our front desk?” I am fairly certain my response was a blank stare of disbelief. In fact, after that, I hired at least one more person in recovery for that same position.

Although an unfortunate path in the beginning, it is a rewarding journey (albeit challenging) once they have made it through the difficulties. There is pride taken in the work they do and the work ethic they have developed during their darkest days. With that same sense of pride, I acknowledge I am the mother of a daughter in long-term recovery. Her name is Lindsey.


If you are wondering, those in long-term recovery are proud of themselves, and rightfully so.

What is Lindsey most proud of? In her words, “I am proud that I have a strong relationship with my loved ones. I missed so much time when I was deep in my addition. Invitations to birthday parties, funerals and other events didn’t matter as I knew I was not going to show up and never did I feel remorse (at that point). Now, I get to go to picnics in parks, watch my siblings play sport, and I love it. Time spent with my loved ones mean the absolute most to me. Also, I am proud in believing I deserve a better life. Being in recovery has opened my eyes to that. I do not want to be homeless or stealing for months; I want to be reliable and trustworthy. At the same time, I want to feel that sense of self-worth and love. Ten years ago, I may have said that, but did I really believe it? No.”

Currently, she has a full-time position as the office manager in a local therapy clinic. With her past, the most difficult part of her job is knowing they may not be able to help everyone. She states, “It breaks my heart seeing the younger ones who have been exposed to traumatic events or who have mental health issues at such a young age. I just want to hug them along with their parents, which leads to another difficult part – parents who are trying everything they can to help their children but have to painfully watch as they continue to struggle.”

Of course, since there is a “worst” part of the job, there has to be a “best.” For Lindsey it is knowing that she works for people who provide support for those battling mental illness, trauma or addictions. She has seen that first-hand and has compassion along with empathy for all parties involved.

The practitioners not only care about the mental health of their patients, but also that of their employees. They are very family-oriented and compassionate. For example, when Lindsey had emergency eye surgery, she said they were more concerned for her well-being rather than her absence at work.

"We do recover” is not just a phrase, it is a lifestyle and one to be proud of – even at work.

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to .

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