Returning to work after you come out of rehab can be an incredibly daunting prospect, and it is likely to be one of the most difficult hurdles you will face during the early stages of your recovery.
If you are not properly prepared to make the transition back into work, it is highly likely that you will find the process stressful and drastically increase your risk of suffering a relapse.
If you are out of work, the already frightening process of finding new employment can seem even harder. It is not a particularly nice position to be in, so it is important that you adopt the right mindset and take the right steps to ensure that your transition back into the world of work after rehab is as smooth as possible.
Maintaining a strong support network
Workplace stress, and worries over financial security, are among the strongest contributing factors that lead people to fall into addiction in the first place. These problems are unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind when in the midst of addiction treatment, but once you return to your normal life they are likely to come crashing back into focus.
Returning to this stress can thus represent a major trigger for relapse. This is especially true if you associate certain aspects of your substance abuse with your job (i.e. if you used to regularly drink with your coworkers after your shift, or if you work in an environment where alcohol is always or frequently present).
One of the surest ways to mitigate this stress is to maintain a strong support network. Having a safe space to talk about your worries, and your harmful urges, goes a long way towards easing them. Support at home is invaluable, so if you have loved ones that you can talk to you should not hesitate to turn to them when you need to.
Most rehabilitation programmes offer comprehensive aftercare as part of their treatment. This means that you will still be able to return to the clinic for outpatient therapies and support, with the opportunity to talk to other recovering addicts as part of a dedicated support group.
It is important that you remember that you are not alone, and help is available when the stress feels like it’s becoming too much to handle.
Making sure you have support in the workplace
Because workplace stress can be so damaging to our mental health, it is important to make sure that you are properly supported within the workplace as well as outside of it. A critical part of this is maintaining a dialogue with your employer and having a discussion on how depression and other mental health issues may be affecting your ability to work at certain times.
It might seem uncomfortable to talk with your boss about something as personal as your struggle with addiction, but if your manager understands what it is you are going through they may be willing to make changes to your workload- helping to lessen some of the pressure on your shoulders.
If your boss is unwilling to compromise with you, or if you do not feel able to approach them about this topic, you should get in touch with your company’s Human Resources Department. Depending on where you work, you may also be entitled to access some form of free counselling- which is something you should take advantage of.
Finding employment after Rehab
If your struggle with addiction has kept you out of work for some time, it can be a difficult struggle to find a new job. It is an unfortunate fact that gaps in your employment history can look unattractive to some employers, and it is possible that your professional reputation may have been damaged by your behaviour when you were suffering with substance abuse.
You might have to sit through a lot of interviews before you manage to secure something. It sounds cliché, and it is understandably hard to do, but it is important that you try to maintain a positive attitude throughout this process. The stress of looking for a new job can seriously exacerbate your chance of a relapse, so you need to approach this problem with a sense of determination.
If you can maintain a positive attitude, you are more likely to be successful in interviews. If you approach this task expecting to fail, you severely hamper your chances of success and find yourself creating a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.
Easing yourself back into work after Rehab
Whether you are returning to an old job or finding a new one, it is important you do not put too much stress on yourself too suddenly. One way of reducing some of the pressure is easing your way back into the world of work gradually, by doing part-time or voluntary work. If you are returning to a job, you might be able to negotiate with your employer to reduce your hours.
Pursuing part-time work will obviously have an impact on your finances, but on the whole the reduction of stress will almost certainly be better for your mental health. Likewise, while voluntary work is unpaid, you will not be expected to work to highly demanding targets or deadlines.
Volunteering is also an effective way to bolster your CV and offset any concern future employers may have about an employment gap. Not only will it prove that you are still capable of work, you will likely earn yourself a valuable reference.
How to know when to go back to work after Addiction Rehab
Returning to work after rehab is inevitable, but it is a delicate process that should not be haphazardly rushed. It can be difficult to know when is the right time to transition back in, but if you do not feel that you can handle it the best thing to do is wait.
Relapse prevention is key, your stay in rehab will mean little if you fall back into substance abuse immediately as a result of work stress. If you are feeling uncertain, or worried, you should make use of your clinic’s aftercare programme and ask your counsellor for advice.