Transitioning Back into Work After Substance Use Treatment

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Returning to work after substance use treatment can give you mixed feelings. On the one hand, a job can provide the financial and emotional stability that may help you along your road to recovery. Re-entering work life can make you feel productive, fulfilled, and comfortable. However, it can also be a difficult and awkward experience. You may be worried about gossip, work performance expectations, substance use triggers, and job security. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make the transition back into work more comfortable.

Be Prepared for Questions

If your co-workers knew about your addiction, you might be dreading the intensive questions about your treatment. If they aren’t aware of why you took time away from work, you may not want to explain all the details. It’s best to prepare some answers beforehand based on what you feel comfortable sharing.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to share every detail. You can tell your co-workers that it was necessary to take some time off to tend to some health issues. If you feel comfortable sharing more information about your addiction and subsequent treatment, that is fine too. Share as much as you feel comfortable doing so.

Avoid Triggers

In some cases, it is one’s work environment that contributes to their substance use in the first place. Some common workplace stressors include:

  • Stress
  • Busy schedules
  • Unreasonable demands
  • Improper work-life balance

When returning to work after substance use treatment, try to avoid these potential stressors as much as possible. It may be necessary to adjust your role or work schedule to reduce the chances of work-related relapse. These details should be discussed with your manager and HR department.

Don’t Become a Workaholic

It’s important to remember that even after substance use treatment, you still need to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the chance of relapse. In many cases, former patients substitute their addiction with work, which can cause harm to one’s health and relationships. Don’t overwork yourself and create a healthy balance between work, family, and leisure time.

Rely on Company Resources

In several cases, companies offer resources for employees suffering from addiction, either through an Employee Assistance Program or another avenue. Speak with your HR representative to see if your company provides such resources as part of its benefits package. Taking advantage of these resources can help you maintain long-term health and can make your transition back into work life more manageable.

Establish Boundaries with Other Addicts

There may be others who struggle with substance use in your workplace. Spending time with these colleagues in social settings can make it easier for you to relapse. If possible, try to avoid these coworkers or establish boundaries around how you interact with them.

Know Your Rights

You may be entitled to time off for substance use treatment and any recommendations from your health provider, such as doctor’s appointments, therapy, or outpatient groups. Study your rights and ensure your employer accommodates your recovery needs according to the law.

Transitioning back into working life is almost never an easy thing to do. It is an awkward task and one that will take time and patience to work through. If you require assistance during this process, reach out to High Focus Centers. A licensed therapist will help guide you through this process and make healthy work-life choices for long-term sobriety.