A common misconception about people who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse is that they can’t hold down a job. And while unemployment is a common repercussion of long-term substance abuse, many people who get sober can balance both addiction recovery and employment. However, jobs in addiction recovery don’t come without their challenges. With that said, we’re sharing some tips for holding down a job while staying sober that can help you.
While it’s not always the best immediate move, working while in addiction recovery is beneficial for many reasons. Not only does it keep you busy when thoughts of drug use and cravings can sneak their way in but working also provides you with a sense of purpose, a source of steady income, and independence. And let’s face it, we live in a time when most people need to work to get ahead and live comfortably.
However, there are plenty of things that can get in the way of steady employment, including sobriety. If you’re recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, many challenges can present themselves in the workplace. While the stress of work might tempt you to use again for “relief,” coworkers who encourage substance abuse may also make it difficult to stay sober.
Additionally, employers who are aware of your history with addiction could possibly develop a preconceived notion of who you are. Discouraged by such thoughts, you might begin to second guess yourself and delay going back to work. However, while we don’t encourage you to rush into something you know you aren’t ready for, getting back to work often speeds up the recovery process and provides recovering addicts a much-needed sense of purpose, daily routine, and structure.
Our Delaware rehab center is sharing some helpful tips for balancing addiction recovery and employment.
Stress is inevitable in any job, and considering that stress is one of the most common contributing factors to addiction, it’s important to have a plan for how to manage stress while working in recovery. Especially if you haven’t worked in a while, the stresses of a job might seem new to you. It’s important to develop healthy tactics for managing stress, which requires an in-depth self-assessment.
This means it’s important to know your limits. Don’t jampack your schedule during your first week back in the field. The more you learn and familiarize yourself with the new schedule, the more you can add to your routine. Another popular approach to managing stress is to practice meditation. Take some time every day, preferably before you clock in, to practice breathing exercises and prepare yourself to practice patience.
Remember that while you can’t control what others do, you can control what you do. If you can learn how to manage your stress at work, then you can work almost anywhere, even in recovery.
Being unorganized, both in your schedule and workspace, can contribute to stress, which we just went over. A great way to stay organized is to keep an agenda or a planner. This will be your planner for the year and should go everywhere with-related with you, but only bring it when it is work-related (this helps create a boundary, but more on that in a bit).
This means writing down everything. This will allow you to stay on top of everything you have to do during the day so you stay on track and prevent going off on tangents or adding too many additional little things that can pile up. Keep a strict schedule to prevent overloading yourself.
Forgetting important things, especially at work, can cause responsibilities to pile up, resulting in that horrible five-letter word: stress. Organize your daily tasks by priority and knock them out. You’ll find that you’ll have more energy for the difficult stuff and remain more productive this way.
Oftentimes, your biggest distraction in the office will be your cellphone. Surfing the web or scrolling through social media, while it may only last two minutes at a time, can add up to an hour or longer if you do it often enough during the day. If you can truly manage the distraction and get your work done correctly and on time, then go for it.
But if you’re one of those people who reach for their phones every few minutes, then you have to set some boundaries. Consider leaving your phone tucked away and turning off notifications from group chats or social media sites. If you don’t need your phone at all while you’re working, consider turning it off completely.
If you’re someone who works from home, virtually anything can be a distraction. If you’re a remote employee, be sure to create a strict routine for yourself to prevent any distractions. Work in one space in the home and make sure that your phone is away from you when you don’t need it for work.
Avoid skipping lunch breaks or any other breaks. Even 10-minute rest periods can help you be more productive. Particularly if you’re feeling unfocused during business hours and can’t seem to get anything done, why not take a short break to relax your mind? Not only could this alleviate stress, but it can refresh the mind and help you tackle problems from a different angle. Stretches and exercises are great ways to fill your break times. You can also take a short walk with a coworker.
It’s important to make sure that you and your boss are on the same page, meaning you might have to be a bit vulnerable with them about your history of substance abuse. Especially if you might feel the need to reorganize your schedule or adjust your workload, it’s important for your boss to be aware that you’re in addiction recovery.
Many supervisors are willing to accommodate their employees to ensure that they’re as comfortable, happy, and productive as possible. While you don’t have to go into detail, this is an important step in returning to the work field and balancing addiction recovery and employment.
It can be tempting to want to please your boss or teammates by doing lots of favors and piling up your schedule. This might mean working longer hours or working even when you’re not supposed to be. And while you may seem like a mean, lean, working machine in the office, a lack of boundaries can allow your job to cut into your personal life and relationships and even create more stress.
For these reasons, it’s very important to create boundaries when you go to work. Whether it’s a boundary between you and your employer or even between yourself and your desire to work more, it’s all about staying balanced. By following the other tips, we mentioned about keeping yourself organized and only working when you’re meant to, you can maintain this balance.
Be sure to spend time with your loved ones after work and avoid skipping or missing any 12-step meetings or recovery groups. While a steady income is important, staying sober is your priority.
If you’re in active addiction and want to change your life for the better, or know someone who does, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Milford rehab center for help. We offer both medical detox and residential addiction treatment that allow clients to recover without the distractions of everyday life.
In addition to treatment withdrawal treatment, our residential care includes various psychotherapy programs as well as family therapy to help clients reconnect with those in their lives who were hurt by their drug use. With the various amenities offered to our clients, they’ll have all they need to overcome addiction and sustain long-term sobriety.