Employment influence in recovering people who use drugs during opiate substitution treatment
There are high levels of unemployment among people who use drugs, and work has been shown as an important component of rehabilitation, reducing the likelihood of relapse. This is a rarely studied subject in Portugal, but with great impact on their lives, making it imperative to take measures.
This longitudinal research is inserted in a larger european project, DURESS (Drug Use Recovery, Environment and Social Subjectivity), funded by SICAD (General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies), and pretends to understand how important employment is in people who use drugs recovery, which difficulties are most commonly found in their jobs and how to integrate these needs in recovery.
Each of the 14 participants from the Oporto district kept a health diary for six months, where they registered all the ideas they had about employment. In some cases, the participants didn’t write in their diaries by themselves, but the researchers wrote what has been told by the participants.
Data were analyzed through content analysis. The results suggest that employment is a very important component in recovery because it provides monetary stability to people who use drugs, increasing their responsibility, while giving them the opportunity to achieve some of their goals. They feel integrated and useful for society, although at times conflicts arise at work because of their past. Furthermore, they get busy, which avoids them to consume or to think about drugs, making recovery easier. There are participants reporting that, sometimes, there is no need for a full-time job, but a part-time one or attending a professional course would be enough to keep them busy. Many suggestions have been found, in order to improve and make recovery easier, but the most frequent one is the need to have a job that fits their situation.