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By Jamie P | 15 May, 2019 Published in Guides
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When you are in the thick of going through drug and alcohol rehab, the idea of returning to work is probably the least of your worries. If you are not currently in employment when you are undergoing addiction treatment, the possibility of returning to work may seem like a remote one.

There are a variety of reasons why the idea of returning to work following drug and alcohol rehab may seem daunting. For instance, you may be returning to a workplace where your addiction is common knowledge amongst your colleagues.

Fortunately, going to rehab is all about developing self-esteem and belief that you can function as a valuable member of society. This almost certainly includes the belief that you cannot only return to work but also thrive in your career.

You will also learn that your recovery is actually something you should take great pride in. After all, millions of people around the Globe must live with addiction.

A significant portion of these people even die because of their addiction. Your recovery is thus proof that you can succeed even when the odds are greatly stacked against you.

It’s true that your recovery will almost seem like a full-time job when you are new to it. The good news is that life in recovery will become successively easier over time.

The benefits of returning to work following addiction treatment

At Rehab 4 Addiction, we have seen the evidence mount up over the years that supports the view that returning to work truly serves to support your recovery. If you believe returning to work will hinder your recovery, then it’s time to examine the evidence that serves to challenge this erroneous and self-limiting belief.

It’s unarguable that returning to work will offer you stability and a routine that fits in with other activities demanded by your recovery. When you do not go to work, you will have a lot of time at your disposal, and there is a good chance boredom will act as a powerful relapse trigger.

One study conducted by the Center for the Study of Addictions and Recovery back in 2012 stated that those who returned to their work following rehab were less likely to relapse and more likely to attain positive treatment outcomes compared to those who remained unemployed.

Many rehab clinics incorporate job seeking skills in their treatment programme. Some rehab clinics even go further than this by guaranteeing you a job following the completion of your treatment. You will also be assisted with your housing needs if necessary.  

Many rehab clinics will also refer you to an occupational health expert who will be able to assist you with any problems you may be experiencing when it comes to locating and then maintaining suitable employment.

Some employers are even known to encourage applicants who have battled with substance misuse in the past. These employers are understanding of the issues you face and they are non-judgemental when it comes to your past.

Tips to help you return to work following rehab

Whilst returning to work following rehab does offer you many benefits, this does not come without caution. Below, we offer two tips to help you ease back into the workplace following the completion of your rehab treatment. Following this advice helps you utilise employment in such a way that actually benefits your recovery.

These tips also help you avoid many of the pitfalls that potentially arise when you return to work following rehab treatment:

#1.  Ease back into work slowly with part-time work or volunteering

It is advisable to slowly ease back into the workplace. It’s almost always better to build up the amount of time you spend in work each day slowly over the course of several months. It is particularly beneficial to return to part-time employment if you are able to afford the pay-cut this will inevitably entail.

Remember, your sanity is more valuable than any amount of money you will lose as a result of your decision to work part-time.

If you return to full-time employment, the stress created by your job could act as a relapse trigger. You could fool yourself into believing ‘just one drink’ will be enough to ease occupational stress that inevitably arises when you jump back into full-time employment too quickly. However, it’s likely ‘one’ drink will lead to another, resulting in a full-blown relapse.

Returning to part-time employment whilst you are new to recovery helps to guard you against the levels of occupational stress that are capable of instigating relapse. Only when you are more established in recovery should you consider exposing yourself to greater levels of occupational stress.

Another avenue back into the workplace following rehab is volunteering. In 2019, volunteering truly is a global movement. There are countless volunteering opportunities both in your local area and internationally. You can learn more about volunteering opportunities here. 

It’s undeniable that volunteering allows you to dip your toe in the employment market without getting wet. Because you will essentially be an unpaid employee, your employer will expect less of you and you will not be expected to work to demanding targets or deadlines that typically expose you to greater levels of occupational stress.

Volunteering is also a way an effective way to return to the workplace following a period of absence. If you make a good impression during your stint as a volunteer, it’s likely you will have earned a valuable reference which can be utilised in finding paid employment.

#2. Recruit the assistance of family and friends

If you are struggling to return to work following rehab, why not ask a family member or friend for some assistance. If these people own their own business, they may be able to offer you employment. If they are employed, they may be able to enquire about opportunities that exist within their own place of work.

Working with loved-ones and close friends is likely to be less stressful than working for strangers. Your loved-ones also know what you have experienced with your addiction and now with your recovery, so you will not have to subject yourself to having to disclose these facts to a new employer who is essentially a stranger.

Friends and family may also be able to assist in other ways. For instance, it may be useful to ask these people to look over your CV or job application. You may also be able to borrow money from friends or family to buy clothing suitable for employment.

If you wish to get a job that’s outside town, why not ask loved ones for a ride to work? It’s likely they will be happy to help given you took the initiative to ask.

How to handle occupational stress so you do not relapse

Occupational stress is likely to arise at some point no matter what type of work you do. It’s also true that some jobs are much more stressful than others. However, if you are able to process occupational stress effectively, it’s likely you will be able to turn your hand to most jobs without risking your recovery.

Resorting to drug and alcohol is an automatic stress relief mechanism. However, with the right tools and the correct level of awareness, you will be able to slowly ramp up the levels of occupation stress you able to bear without any risk of relapse.

Below, we list thee tips to help you reduce occupational stress so that you do not find yourself turning to drugs and alcohol:

#1. Do not take your job home with you

It’s tempting to continue to check work-emails and the like even when you have returned home. We urge you to not make a habit of this. Instead, set clear boundaries to ensure you do not take your work home with you. Make it clear to your boss that you are not available to discuss work-related matters in your personal time unless it is absolutely urgent.

If you have built up the habit of taking work home with you over many years, then we urge you to examine whether this could have contributed to your addiction you have worked so hard to conquer. Now is the time to draw up your redlines by refusing to take your work home with you.

#2. Ensure your mental and physical well-being is tended to

The amount of stress you are able to bear is related to your state of physical and mental health. To improve your overall physical and mental health, ensure you take plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. Your state of physical and mental health impacts your ability to cope with both occupational and everyday stress alike.

Ensure you do not neglect the amount of food you eat. Doing so will mean you are low on energy. Eat a generous breakfast followed by a healthy lunch and dinner consisting of unprocessed foods such as fruit, vegetables and fresh meat/fish. You may also benefit from taking supplements such as protein powder and multi-vitamins/minerals.

Another important component of sound mental and physical health is sleep. Ensure you are getting enough sleep at night to ensure you are strong enough to cope with stress as and when it arises both in your employment and personal life. We recommend you aim to get at least eight hours of undisturbed sleep each night.

#3. Ensure your employer is aware of your recovery

Some new to recovery may be embarrassed about this fact. Instead, we urge you to take pride in your recovery. If your employer is unable to positively embrace your recovery, then this really says much more about their unreasonableness and ignorance than it does about your ability to fulfil your role professionally and competently.

In most situations, you learn that your employer is able to make reasonable adjustments to your role in light of your recovery. Remember that addiction is not uncommon, and so larger employers will not be entirely unfamiliar with the situation you face. It is likely your employer will agree to reduce your responsibilities and then build up these responsibilities slowly over an agreed period of time, or when you feel ready.

How to access drug and alcohol rehab that supports your return to work

As stated above, many rehab clinics support your return to work as part of their overall treatment programme. To discover treatment clinics of this nature, contact our free helpline today on 0800 140 4690.

Alternatively, you may contact us via our online contact form. We look forward to receiving your call for help now.

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