For those in early sobriety, maintaining a job is an exciting opportunity and a challenge. Often, addiction can take someone to a place where they’re no longer employable. Sometimes, they’ve never worked at all. When it comes to jobs in recovery, learning the right ways to cope with work-life is paramount for long-term recovery.
Should You Work While Getting Sober?
Going back to work after addiction treatment is a very personal choice. The first “recovery job” is often a low-stress one that allows someone to continue their recovery journey. Of course, not everyone has the fortune to stop working or delaying going back to work any further. It can be challenging to make time for group support meetings, therapy sessions, and other recovery-related activities while holding a full-time job. Because of this, many jobs in recovery are usually part-time or per-contract. As individuals progress in their journey, they’ll start to feel more comfortable and confident in their abilities to maintain a full-time job without jeopardizing their recovery.
Benefits of Returning to Work After Addiction Treatment
Finding a job after addiction treatment is a big deal and an essential step in long-term recovery. Being able to be self-sufficient, having a reliable paycheck, and improving your self-esteem are all critical to maintaining sobriety. Even if a paying job isn’t available at the moment, volunteering opportunities are a great alternative to maintaining a structure during early recovery.
Recover Stability and Normalcy
Addiction is an unpredictable experience with many ups and downs. Finding stability and normalcy is a luxury for many recovering addicts. Steady employment gives a sense of structure and responsibility, which can help create long-term stability. Not to mention, having maintained a job is an indication of normalcy and being part of the community.
Restore Self-Esteem and Self-Sufficiency
Most people struggling with substance use disorders lose their self-esteem. When people are in early recovery, their emotions are still very much fragile, often reporting feeling worthless and unable to contribute. When people go back to work, they start to slowly build up their self-esteem and confidence in taking up new challenges. Besides, recovering addicts haven’t been self-sufficient for a long time. Being able to provide for themselves and maintain a job that helps them improve their ability to care for themselves will help them maintain long-term sobriety.
Sense of Community and Wholeness
Throughout addiction treatment, building a reliable and healthy support system is paramount to foster long-term recovery. Having a job gives individuals a sense of being part of a community. Working with colleagues, bosses, supplies, and others make them feel part of their surrounding society. Not to mention, everyone in early sobriety wants to achieve that sense of wholeness. Work in part of this sense of wholeness, especially as part of a comprehensive recovery process. Along with seeing your therapist, going to 12-step meetings, and caring for yourself and your family members.
How to Prioritize Your Recovery While Working
However, one of the downsides of jobs in recovery is the added pressure. For those in early sobriety, it can be challenging to maintain their job responsibilities and work on recovery simultaneously. After all, having a job can be stressful and place individuals in scenarios where they have to fight relapse triggers constantly. Prioritizing recovery while working is key to long-term sobriety.
Focus on Time Management
Stress is one of the biggest relapse triggers in early recovery. Time management at work can help reduce stress levels and help you maintain a healthy recovery lifestyle. Make sure to:
- Set goals at work and in your personal life, so you can know how to prioritize your schedule.
- Plan ahead for commitments using your smartphone calendars, agendas, or reminders.
- Simplify your life by cutting out any commitments that don’t contribute to your sobriety and might be competing with job responsibilities.
Something as simple as practicing breathing exercises at work can help you stay mindful of the moment. A few minutes of mindfulness every day can go a long way towards helping you feel balanced and confident in your work environment. Practicing mindfulness also helps with stress levels and other anxieties.
Set Healthy Boundaries
It can be easy to forget about setting boundaries, especially when you’re grateful for a new job. However, making use of paid-time-off, honoring your self-care needs, and setting healthy boundaries at work is paramount for maintaining sobriety. Make sure you take time for yourself and your family. Only check your work email at the beginning and the end of your workday. Avoid reading emails in the middle of the night. Use your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” settings during the weekends or at dinner time with your family, and on your days off. These types of healthy boundaries will bring down the pressure and stress related to work.
Advocate for a Flexible Schedule
If you chose to disclose you’re in recovery to your employer, consider asking for a flexible schedule. Attending your weekly 12-step group meeting or having time to visit your therapist at least once a week can make a tremendous difference in your recovery journey. Be honest about your recovery and ask if you can arrange to work remotely one day a week. Maybe you can leave earlier one day to make it to your meetings. Explain how these activities are part of your recovery process and how they can positively impact your work performance.
Seeking Aftercare Recovery Support
While maintaining jobs in recovery is a critical element of long-term sobriety, finding aftercare support is paramount. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe that recovery is a lifelong journey. In our aftercare recovery programs, we incorporate life skills development courses, relapse prevention techniques, job positioning, interview assistance, and ongoing support to help recovering addicts maintain their sobriety. Many recovering addicts will often seek a career in addiction. They usually start volunteering at treatment programs and support groups. Eventually, many return to school and become addiction counselors helping those struggling with addiction, focusing on behavioral health, and tapping into their personal experience at work. If you or someone you know is in the early recovery stages, seek out aftercare support today. Contact our admissions office today to learn more about our aftercare rehab program and how we can help you stay positive in your long-term sobriety recovery.