Asana Recovery

How to Make a Career Comeback After Addiction

a man making a career comeback after addictionIf you had to stop work to seek out addiction treatment, you’re not alone. In 2020, 4 million Americans received substance abuse treatment and over 1 million of those were in inpatient care. Rehab can give you a break from life so that you can focus on your recovery and building the skills you need to get back to your life without drugs and alcohol. But, for many people, bridging the gap between addiction, rehab, and going back to everyday life can be incredibly difficult.

After all, how do you go back to work after leaving in potentially embarrassment? How do you pick up old routines and habits without restarting drinking or using? And how do you take what you enjoyed about your old life while cutting out the parts that led to addiction? Navigating that would be challenging for someone who was mentally and physically healthy, chances are, you’re neither, which makes it even more challenging.

Taking a slow approach, planning for everything, and ensuring you have the things you need to succeed will help.

Don’t Rush Being Autonomous

If you’ve been getting treatment in a rehab center, you’re probably used to having people around all the time. Rehabs often have you share rooms, meals, and conversations with others all the time. Moving out and directly into an apartment or house by yourself can be a big step. When you combine that with the mental and emotional toll of going back to work, it can be significant.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to take things one step at a time. If you have to go back to work immediately when you leave rehab, consider getting help at a sober home or halfway house as you adjust to work. That will allow you to maintain the structure and company from the rehab center, so you can adjust to one thing at a time. Of course, that’s harder if you have kids or family responsibilities – but many sober homes support kids and even offer daycare opportunities.

It’s also a good idea to try adapting to life back at home if you can. However, that won’t always be possible, which can mean making sacrifices that aren’t in the best interest of your health. If you can’t afford to wait to start work or going to a halfway house, ensuring that you have support networks and people to lean on is an important alternative.

Get Your Questions Answered

Figure Out How to Make Work Less Stressful

woman thinking some ways to make work less stressfulWork can be a major contributing factor to addiction. Whether that’s because you started using to improve performance, to relieve stress, or to deal with emotions doesn’t matter. If your work is demanding or stressful, it can contribute to addiction and to relapse. Walking into that understanding that your work significantly contributes to your overall mental health is important.

  • Decide What to Share – You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to. If your boss, colleagues, or employees ask about your substance abuse problem, you don’t have to answer. That may be important in fields where drug use is prohibited under moral clauses (e.g., most doctors and lawyers). However, you can also choose to be open, as you’re normally protected under ADA law – as long as you don’t or haven’t used during company hours or in a way that would endanger the company, its assets, or people.
  • Take On Hours You Can Manage – it’s important to pace yourself as much as possible. Not everyone will be able to adjust work hours. However, if your work has an employee assistance program or you can negotiate with HR, you may be able to ease back into work, slowly ramping hours back up over time. That can give you more time and freedom to adapt, while still going to treatment and self-help or support groups. If you can’t manage full time, it’s important to accept that, take steps to ensure you don’t have to work full time, and try to avoid over stressing yourself.
  • Change Jobs If Necessary – In some cases, changing job or career field will be an important part of taking care of your mental health. If work leaves you stressed, burnt out, unmotivated, or unhappy, it’s a good idea to stop, look at why, and try to change that. Sometimes taking on different responsibilities will make you happier at work. In other cases, you might want to change your role, invest in personal development and adding more responsibilities, work for a different team with different management styles, or even change what you do altogether.

Eventually, work is a large part of your life, and it should contribute to your life in a positive way. If you’re stressed or unable to cope during or after work, work needs to change, not you.

Know Your Coping Mechanisms and Have Safety Nets

Even the best workplace can result in stress. That can be because of people, things at work, or even having less time for other parts of your life. But, it will happen and that’s almost guaranteed. This means it’s important to go to work with coping mechanisms and safety nets in place. For example, if you know that you get stressed when you receive criticism or feedback, make sure you have a coping mechanism in place. That might be calling someone, using music for mood regulation, or using conversation tactics to discuss what that feedback actually means with the person. In addition, if you know you have triggers, you should discuss those with your therapist or counselor to try to work out good coping mechanisms.

In addition, it’s important that you be able to turn to professional help if you start struggling. Having the safety net of people to check up on you, the option to go back into aftercare, ongoing support, and self-help groups will help you to stay clean and sober as you move back into your career. However, even having those will still require that you pay attention to your mental health and well-being, so that you can ask for help if you start to struggle.

Recovery is an ongoing process. Leaving rehab is just one step in your journey to recovery and going back to work and building a career for yourself is another. While it can feel like a setback and it can feel like too much, it’s also an important step in getting back to your life, figuring out what you want from work, and moving your life forward in a direction you want it to go. Sometimes that will mean redefining what you do for work. In other cases, it will mean finding better coping mechanisms and ensuring you have support networks as you do. Good luck going back to work.

Asana Recovery offers detoxresidential, and outpatient addiction treatment services at our center located in Orange County, California. Please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced addiction treatment team if you have any questions about our programs.