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Life After Rehab: 3 Challenges of Returning to Work

returning to work after addiction rehab

Many recovering addicts look forward to returning to their former workplace or embarking on a new vocational challenge. Employment provides a welcome routine, a healthy distraction, and the opportunity to get finances back on track. It is not without its difficulties, though—and you will be better prepared to re-enter working life if you are realistic about the challenges you may face.

1. Relational Challenges
If you return to a job you held before entering rehab, be prepared for co-worker questions. Those closest to you may be aware of your addiction, but others may inquire about your extended absence. Work with your therapy team in advance to decide how much you wish to divulge, and to whom you will divulge it. Planning ahead prevents you from feeling put on the spot. If you choose to share your story, remember that you are not obligated to share every detail. Most importantly, approach your job with determination, integrity, and excellence. You can’t stop the grapevine, but your colleagues will appreciate your demonstrated commitment to your recovery and your career.

2. Relapse Triggers
In some cases, demanding jobs contribute to or perpetuate addiction. Perhaps you began drinking or using to escape work stress, avoid unreasonable demands from your boss, or manage a tenuous work-life balance. If this is the case, consider beginning a new career or finding a job where old triggers can’t continue to haunt you. In your former life, did you buy prescription pain meds from a colleague? Enjoy too many happy hours? Sneak into the break room to drink? If so, it’s time to seek a new employment environment. Or, while you’re starting fresh after rehab, take the opportunity to delve into a new career, start your own business, or go back to school to pursue a new passion.

3. Addiction Substitution
Perhaps you weren’t a workaholic before you entered rehab, but now you spend long hours at the office to prove yourself—or to avoid going home. Called “cross-addiction,” or addiction substitution, this type of behavior can be just as destructive to your health and relationships as your former addiction. Prioritize your work-life balance when you return to your career. Work a reasonable number of hours, and then make time for family, exercise, nutrition, and leisure. Committing to self-care and avoiding workaholism is critical to preventing career burnout and achieving sustained sobriety.

Here at 10 Acre Ranch, we understand the challenges our clients will face when it is time to return to the workforce. As part of active recovery and relapse prevention planning, we provide group and one-on-one guidance to ready you for life after rehab. With preparation and a positive attitude, your job can help you lead a more balanced and financially stable sobriety. Begin your recovery journey today alongside a group of peers committed to a new, productive lifestyle. Dial 877.228.4679 to discuss admission, payment, and insurance.