Returning to everyday life after going through addiction treatment can be challenging. After all, you’ve just gone through an extreme transformation. But you’ve dealt with your addiction head on and reached sobriety. You’ve learned coping methods and new skills that will help you make healthy choices in the real world. You can do this!
Now, it’s perfectly normal to feel apprehensive, especially when it comes to going back to work. If you’re like many people, you may have taken time off to go into treatment and focus on getting well. Returning can naturally feel a little odd, but you can make it go more smoothly by being prepared. Here’s what you need to know.
What Challenges Can I Expect?
Even if you haven’t been away from work that long, there are various challenges you may face going back. Much of it depends on how you actually left things with your coworkers. For example, if you took a leave of absence without telling anyone where you were going and why, then your coworkers may not be very understanding of how you feel.
On the other hand, telling people can lead to unwanted attention when you return. You may feel like there is a spotlight on you, and you may feel that others are treating you differently as a result. You may also feel that your job is not as secure as it once was.
In addition to dealing with coworkers and potential office gossip, here are some other common challenges you may face when returning to your professional life:
- Having to “re-learn” certain skills needed to do your job
- Having to catch up on work and other things that you missed while gone
- Feeling like a different person who may no longer fit in with the work culture
- Returning to stress factors that may have contributed to drug abuse in the first place
It’s important to keep in mind that while these things can be difficult to deal with, they can be overcome with time and persistence. That said, you should evaluate if your job contributed directly to your addiction via stress or an unhealthy office culture. If this is the case, look for ways you can improve your environment. If this is not possible, then it may be time to explore new opportunities.
Make Returning to Work Easier
Don’t go quitting your job just yet (although again, if you think you are in a toxic environment, switching to a new job may actually be the right course). You are not alone, and there are many other people in your shoes. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that around 23 million Americans suffer from drug abuse and addiction every year! And just like you, many of them go through addiction treatment and then must return to work.
While your own experience may come with its own unique challenges based on your line of work and the people around you, there are a variety of things you can do to help make your return go smoothly:
- Plan what you will say – Think ahead of time what you will tell people if they ask about your situation. While you don’t have to tell them the whole truth, keep in mind that the more honest you are, the clearer things will sound (a good alternative is to just say you were away working on some health issues and leave it at that).
- Have an outlet – Everyone needs to be able to vent about work stress, and your situation can definitely be stressful. Just as it is important to build up a support system of family and friends during your addiction recovery, it is important to open up to them about what you may be feeling in your professional life.
- Take up hobbies – Work should not be your entire life. Taking up hobbies you can engage in during your spare time will help relieve stress and keep you occupied in healthy activities.
- Be graceful – If you are the target of some unwelcome office gossip, don’t fire back. Staying calm and collected will demonstrate your ability to rise above (and it will make the gossipers look bad, not you).
- Know your rights – If for some reason your job security is ever put into question as a result of your addiction treatment, it’s crucial to know your rights. In most instances, employees leaving work for substance abuse treatment are covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Returning to Work Is Good!
The truth is that addiction rarely goes unnoticed by people you are around every day. Many of your coworkers will actually be happy that you have decided to do something about it, and you might be surprised to learn just how proud of you they are.
Furthermore, returning to work in general is a good thing in terms of your addiction recovery. Having structure and following a schedule is more important now more than ever in your life, as is keeping yourself occupied with things not related to drug abuse. Now is also a great opportunity for you to show your true colors to your employer. Without your addiction getting in the way, you have the capacity to thrive.
We Can Help
If you have more questions about returning to work after addiction treatment, feel free to contact our team at Rise in Malibu. We help people from all walks of life successfully get through detox and addiction treatment, then return to their everyday lives. If you are still struggling with addiction, please know that it’s not too late to achieve the healthy life you deserve. We offer comprehensive drug abuse and addiction treatment in a beautiful location in Southern California, so get in touch with us today!