Strategies for Returning to Work After Addiction Treatment

Strategies for Returning to Work After Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. It’s certainly hard work, but if you progress through it with the goal of achieving the best outcome, it will be life-changing. However, it’s precisely the life changes required that can make many people nervous about leaving treatment. Knowing you have a supportive environment at home can help, but what about work?

Getting back to your life can be challenging. Maybe you were able to perform well at work even with your addiction; in fact, 9.5% of people who are full-time workers between the ages of 18 and 64 suffer from substance use disorder (SUD), according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. However, it’s very possible that your efforts to perform well contributed to the stress that fueled your addiction. 

Here’s the question, then: If you have to go back to work, how can you do so in a way that supports your recovery even when the job is stressful?

Ask for What You Need 

Chances are that since you’ve already completed addiction treatment, you’ve already had to give your employer some information about your situation. Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, you have some specific protections as a person in recovery from an SUD. You can work with your human resources department or your supervisor, depending on the circumstances, to negotiate the changes you’ll need to accommodate your continued recovery. 

For example, you may need to adjust your schedule or work fewer hours to accommodate for outpatient treatment or recovery support meetings. You may need to be excused from work events that include alcohol.  

Know that Stress at Work Is Normal But Not Acceptable

Most people face some type of stress at work. Stress is normal, and during your drug and alcohol addiction treatment, you likely learned about stress management.  You’ll want to apply healthy ways to cope with stress in your work life.

  • Recognize the onset of high stress levels. When you are overwhelmed, take a break to clear your head.
  • Find a way to spend some time outdoors each day to combat the anxiety and stress you feel.
  • Do something after work to burn through the stress hormone – like going for a run, heading to the gym for a workout, or talking to a friend.

If your job makes it very difficult for you to move through your day without thinking about drugs and alcohol, it may be time to consider a change in position. 

Create Some Goals for Yourself

There are numerous steps to protecting your well-being and overcoming stress, but nothing is more foundational than having a plan. If you don’t like your job and it creates too much anxiety and frustration for you, have a plan for how you’ll leave. If you like your job but want something more rewarding, consider how you can advance.

This may include:

  • Learning a new skill
  • Going back to school to finish a degree
  • Networking with others who are in the field
  • Getting support from the company’s human resource officer

Write down your goals. Make them actionable with specific steps you plan to take and a timeline for completion. 

Create a New, Healthy Routine

Make sure your routine going to and coming home from work doesn’t put you on the same path it used to. Go a different route home so that you’re not tempted to stop in the bar you used to visit. Don’t just go home and sit on the couch because of your frustration. Consider:

Get the Power and Support You Need to Do Well

You can go back to work with confidence. To do that, we encourage you to give The Ranch at Dove Tree a call. Our facility in Lubbock, TX, offers the support you need to get back to your health and your life with confidence. We provide life skills training, holistic therapies, and more, all from compassionate professionals. Contact us now.