How to Maintain Sobriety When Returning to Work

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Returning to work can be a big step in your efforts to maintain sobriety after you’ve been to rehab. Of course, it’s natural if you’re nervous or even afraid to go back to work

It’s even common to replace your addiction with another called, “workaholism.” It can be easy to start focusing on your job so much that you use it as a crutch. Your job shouldn’t prevent you from dealing with life situations that can be relapse triggers. The more well-rounded you are, the more successful your recovery will be. Balance yourself rather than burning the candle at both ends.

It helps to be aware of work-specific triggers and have a plan in place for how you’ll tackle this important step in your recovery.

Managing Work-Relapse Triggers

While specific triggers can vary from person to person, common work-related triggers that could threaten your sobriety include burnout, tiredness, loneliness and anger. Things like your commute or certain people at work could be triggers too.

The best preventative approach is often to establish a routine and stick to it. Tackle one thing at a time instead of spreading your efforts across many tasks, and pace yourself.

Here are three tips for managing some of these common work-related triggers and maintain balance in recovery.

Be self-sufficient

Prioritize areas such as self-sufficiency and time management when you return to work. Doing well in these areas should boost your self-esteem and lend you a sense of responsibility, stability, and wholeness. Being self-sufficient doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help if you need it. However, depending on the situation, it does mean that you and your supervisor should have a plan for you to be as independent as possible.

A return-to-work agreement can help with this. With this, you and your manager develop a plan that gives you structure, routines, and expectations.

Leave work at work

Stress management is crucial to long-term sobriety. Chances are that work is one of your biggest stressors in your life, but it’s important to prioritize and not let that stress follow you home. Look into other hobbies like hiking where you can relieve your stress in a healthy way.

Additionally, ongoing counseling and 12-step meetings can be extremely beneficial in providing coping mechanisms for dealing with work-related stress.

Find trustworthy co-workers

In addition to your supervisor, it helps to have some other co-workers you can rely on as a support network. Everyone doesn’t have to know that you were in rehab; however, many people find that it helps if two or three trusted colleagues know what happened. You can go to these colleagues if you need help with prioritizing projects or just want a source of support and encouragement at work.

Going back to work after rehab can be exciting, challenging, and stressful. It’s a necessary part of many people’s recovery, as it provides income, structure and validation. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that recovery is a constant process, and you don’t have to face it alone. Your treatment provider can offer community-based resources and services to be successful at work and in your sobriety.

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