Once you’ve done the work to recover from addiction, there’s a point where you’ll want to get back to work. There are many benefits to working. It can even help your long-term recovery success.
Your work life can be advantageous but it can also cause relapse. There are certain things you can do that will make going back to work easier.
Here are some of those strategies that will allow you to stay on the recovery path you’ve worked so hard at. By taking these steps, you’ll start to get your life back on track and feel a positivity you haven’t felt in years.
Why It’s Important to Get Back to Work
You may feel intimidated about getting back to work once your recovery from addiction is well under way. There are some rewards that go beyond the paycheck. There are aspects of your job that may help you abstain from using again too.
Here are some of the benefits to going back to work.
- Steady income.
- Stability and predictability.
- A sense of normalcy.
- Using your time constructively.
- Gives you back your self-esteem.
- Allows you to stand on your own two feet.
- Makes you responsible for something.
- Makes you feel like you’re a part of something. A sense of community.
- Helps to make you feel more whole.
Nurturing Your Recovery Even at Work
If you attended an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, you will have received tools to deal with the real world. When you decide to go back to work, these tools may be your lifeline. The step-down recovery strategies you learned will help you to stay sober.
While honoring your future by going back to work, it’s equally important to nurture your recovery. There are many inspirational methods and beliefs that you learn through recovery. When things become challenging, don’t forget what you’ve learned.
Keep a Notebook By Your Side
You may wish to keep a notebook by your side. Keeping track of your emotions can help you become more aware of potential triggers. Also, writing things down makes you feel instantly better.
Within this notebook, you may also want to have a section where you write down things that inspire you. This could be values you learned through group therapy.
Sharing Your Story of Addiction and Recovery or Not
Before you start your first day back at work, prepare yourself for the questions you’ll be asked. Figure out if you’re going to be honest or exercise your privacy rights.
It is often said to be a double edged sword. You don’t want to feel judged if you’re honest. However, hiding the truth can put you in a compromising position. It can cause undue stress which is something you want to avoid.
You may decide to tell them you were taking care of a sick parent in a different state. You may choose the route of honesty. Both of these are in your right and it’s up to you to decide.
You’re Protected Under Privacy Rights
Know this, you’re not obligated to tell your co-workers that you were an addict and went through recovery. Addicts that are diagnosed are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. You have rights and this includes your ability to come back to work without questions.
Consider what your relationship is with your co-workers. If you feel safe enough to tell them without jeopardizing relationships, opening up could feel really good. You may find a special kind of refuge at the workplace. There may also be some recovering addicts that you can form an alliance with.
Be Prepared to Walk Back Into Your Old Workplace
Yes, you have changed but most likely, your workplace hasn’t. This includes the stress, expectations, and potential triggers. If you’re an alcoholic and the work gang goes out for drinks every Friday, you’ll need to anticipate this.
Anticipating what to expect and how to avoid situations that could cause relapse is important preparation. Remember what caused stress in the past and what caused you to drink or abuse drugs.
Figure out what your coping skills will be in these situations before they arise. Tools like mindfulness and deep breathing can bring you back to center. In the place of calm and inner knowing, you can make healthy choices.
Coping With Job Stress During Early Recovery
Many jobs come with a degree of stress which can cause anxiety. Stress and anxiety are known to contribute to substance abuse problems. This is why you’ll want to be mindful and cautious when you do go back to work.
Ask for help from your support system. Part of your recovery program will include holistic ways of keeping you in a healthy state of mind. Knowing what work triggers could potentially cause relapse before it happens helps you to be better prepared.
Having tools to reduce stress and anxiety can be helpful too. The onset of anxiety can be alleviated with some simple deep breathing. After a rough day, you can always attend a group meeting to release your tension as you talk out your feelings.
Save the Details about Your Addiction for Your Support Circle
If you decided to be upfront and honest about your addiction and recovery, you don’t want to get stuck in the trap of making it a part of your work life. By giving out too many details of your problems, you could make people feel uncomfortable.
The workplace is separate from your personal life. Details should be shared in a safe environment with like-minded people. This alleviates making your co-workers feel uncomfortable and you can talk freely without judgement.
Having a therapist or a 12-step group you trust will help you communicate what you’re going through. They know what you’re going through and understand the disease of addiction.
Beware of H.A.L.T.
H.A.L.T. are acronyms created by Alcoholics Anonymous. They serve to remind you that during recovery it’s important to avoid being:
When you don’t take care of the body and mind, you’re in a vulnerable position to relapse. Work can be time consuming and it can cause stress. Taking care of yourself is something you do have control over.
Make sure to eat breakfast before you go to work. Take the time to eat a healthy lunch. Eating properly can help alleviate anger and promotes mental alertness.
When you’ve had a hard day that’s challenged your recovery ideals, get yourself to your support group. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been sober, you’ll always be welcomed with open arms.
Pace Yourself at Work to Avoid Stressful Situations
Taking care of yourself by eating a healthy and consistent diet is a helpful way to avoid stress. Getting the sleep you need is a way you can prepare for another new day with new challenges.
Preventing stress can also include planning your day in advance. When you really organize things, you work smarter, not harder. Stress often comes from being unprepared so see if you can negate crazy work days that leave you feeling exhausted.
As you pace yourself and make good use of your time, you’ll reduce the risk of burn out. Planning out projects and meetings will also help you be more productive.
Work Can Be Great For Your Recovery
With the help of your support group and a conscious effort on your part, going back to work can be rewarding. Having a sense of pride in something and having a schedule are all ways to help you on the recovery journey.
You may find that you excel at work because your mind is clear and you’re taking care of yourself. This can bring back self-confidence you lost during your addiction. Work can be like any other aspect of your recovery. It is what you make of it.