Do you know that about 1.16 million Americans are arrested each year for drug-related offenses? And where there’s enough evidence, you could serve weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime for theft, possession, manufacture, transport, or sale of a controlled substance.
Now, you would think life in prison after a drug conviction is hard, but it can be even more problematic when you get out.
You may experience social stigma and discrimination. Furthermore, finding a job or even a house can be difficult.
How do you reintegrate into society after a drug conviction? Here are some steps to help you navigate all the challenges and rebuild your life. Let’s start by highlighting the challenges you’re likely to face after a drug conviction.
What challenges will you face after a drug conviction?
One thing is for sure; your life can never be the same after a drug conviction, no matter how hard you try to turn things around.
A drug conviction has significant and long-lasting consequences that can impact your career, housing, education, and personal relationships. However, the first step to coping is to understand these challenges.
Difficult in finding employment
Many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with a criminal record. Therefore, it may be difficult for you to find employment with a drug-related conviction—no one will be willing to take you on their team.
Moreover, this is common, particularly for jobs that need a security clearance, like the military or those that involve handling money, personal data and other sensitive information.
However, even if you succeed in finding a job, you may be limited in your career choices because of the stigma of a drug conviction.
Finding a house
Landlords and property management companies will be hesitant to rent to you, knowing you have a criminal record. As a result, you may face unstable housing situations and sometimes homelessness.
If you find a house, you may be forced to pay higher rent or a hefty security deposit.
Pursuing higher education
Once you’re released from prison due to a drug conviction, it becomes challenging to continue your education, especially in institutions of higher learning.
Colleges and universities often have stringent policies regarding criminal convictions that may bar convicts from pursuing their education in those institutions.
Stigma and discrimination
A drug conviction may result in stigma and discrimination from society. You may face challenges in your personal relationships and may feel ostracized from your community.
Many people are hesitant to date or associate with people who have a drug conviction. This can lead to isolation and loneliness.
How to cope with life after a drug conviction
If you’ve recently been released from prison due to a drug conviction, you may have likely suffered the above challenges as you try to reintegrate into society. This is an everyday experience for anyone with a criminal record.
But how do you ensure that these challenges don’t affect the quality of your life, economically and psychologically? Here are some tips to help you avoid the stigma and isolation and reintegrate into society after serving your sentence.
Take care of yourself
Self-care is essential after a drug conviction. You want to prioritize your physical and mental health to build resilience and cope with the challenges you may be facing.
There are various ways to keep your physical and mental health in check after a drug conviction. For instance, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep to maintain physical fitness.
Also, engage in activities that promote well-being, like practicing mindfulness, reading, deep breathing, meditation, and social interaction.
It’s also essential to follow the terms of your sentence. For instance, if you’re on probation or parole, attend all required meetings, stay sober and avoid certain people or places as instructed. You want to keep out of trouble for your probation period.
You may feel overwhelmed or discouraged after a drug conviction. Consequently, you may not move forward in a positive direction.
However, forget the past and focus on your progress and the positive steps you’re taking to move forward. Do not let your mistakes define you. Remember, you have the power to build a better future for yourself and those around you.
Here are some tips to help you stay positive after a drug conviction;
- Focus on the present—it can be easy to get caught up in negative thoughts about the past or worries about the future. However, try to focus on the present and take things one day at a time.
- Practice gratitude—take time to appreciate the good things in your life. You may consider keeping a gratitude journal or sharing your achievements with friends.
- Engage in activities that promote well-being—do more exercises, meditation, and other creative pursuits to help maintain a positive outlook.
- Find meaning in your experiences—learn from your past mistakes and find ways to grow and improve as a person.
Seek out resources
Various resources can help you reintegrate back into society after a drug conviction. For instance, you may seek employment assistance from specific organizations to help secure a job, even with your criminal record. This includes job training, resume building, and connections with potential employers.
Additionally, you may seek assistance to help you find suitable housing. This might involve connecting you to landlords or property owners that rent people with criminal records or offer temporary housing while you search for a permanent residence.
You may also seek legal assistance to expunge or seal your criminal record or navigate the legal process if you’re on probation.
Seeking help after a drug conviction is crucial to rebuilding your life and moving forward. You need emotional support, practical assistance, and guidance from other people—especially those who have gone through a similar experience. Here’s how to seek help after a drug conviction.
- Connect with family and friends: reconnect with family and friends for emotional support and encouragement. Spend more time with those who are part of your support network. You might also want to reach out to people you’ve lost touch with to grow your support network.
- Join a support group: support groups encompass people who’ve gone through similar experiences—in our case, those who have faced a drug conviction before. Such groups offer a sense of understanding and community.
- Go for counseling and therapy: counseling and therapy can help you work through the challenges you’re facing after a drug conviction. Many organizations offer counseling and therapy specifically to individuals with criminal records.
- Find a mentor: a mentor can offer guidance and support after a drug conviction. You can find one through support groups of organizations that specialize in helping individuals with criminal records.
Final thoughts on coping after a drug conviction
Life after a drug conviction can be challenging—employers aren’t willing to hire you, landlords don’t want to rent to you, and you may find it difficult to pursue higher education. The stigma and discrimination that comes with having a criminal record can be difficult to cope with.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can reintegrate back into society and cope with all the challenges. This includes caring for yourself, having a supportive network, and seeking help. You can also seek legal assistance from an NJ criminal lawyer.