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Holding Down a Job While In Recovery

picture of Joe Gilmore
Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

September 22, 2021

Table of Contents

Working while in recovery isn’t a bad idea at all, depending upon how far along you are in the recovery process. We’re going to give you some useful tips for holding down a job while in recovery in this article.

It’s no secret that we live in a time when most people need to work hard in order to get ahead. Of course, if you’re distracted by your battle with addiction, this can be difficult but realistically, even for a person that’s never suffered from addiction, it’s still a challenge.

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Whether you’re recovering from alcoholism, or other substance abuse issues, there are some supervisors that might have preconceived notions concerning the ability of an addict to be a productive part of the workforce.

And truly, it can be really difficult to adapt to a working while in recovery and keep up with your co-workers who haven’t had to deal with addiction like you. Discouraged by such thoughts, you may find yourself delaying going back to work until after rehab. And while this can be a good idea if you’re really struggling with your addiction, getting back to work can often actually help speed up your recovery; working gives you a sense of purpose and keeps your mind off of unhealthy thoughts.

By integrating yourself back into a working community, you’ll find a renewed sense of belonging and purpose, which will do wonders for your addiction on its own.

The fact remains, however, that most employers don’t want workers that aren’t productive enough for any reason whatsoever. As such, working while in recovery means that you will have to meet some minimum performance standards. If you’re far along enough in your recovery process, we’ve found that about 90% of the time, addicts who are working while in recovery tend to be top performers.

To help you achieve a certain level of productivity that will tell your employer you’re ready for some serious work, here are some helpful tips.

Manage Your Stress

If you haven’t worked for some time, the stresses of a job might be new to you. Finding ways to cope with stress is part of the recovery process but only you can do an honest self-assessment as to your ability to deal with it. There are several good tips for holding down a job while in recovery. A good tip is not to be too aggressive with your schedule if you plan to work.  Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to manage stress.

One popular approach is meditation; practicing meditation using controlled breathing a few times a day will really help you manage stress levels.

Maintaining open communication with co-workers and family during this transition period will be helpful, too. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I’m doing the best I can and I’m still adjusting to stress in the workplace, if you could show a little patience, it would sure help ease my tensions. While some pressure at work might help your productivity, you want to be careful that you’re not working in a toxic environment and let’s face it – some managers leave a lot to be desired when it comes to people skills.

Remember that you can’t control everyone around you but you CAN control how you react to them. Preventing relapse is more important than working in a truly bad job, but if you can manage your stress well, most jobs will be fine.

Have a Plan

Some people like lists and schedules. If that helps you manage stress, then use those tools. Writing down everything that you need to do so that you’re always on top of what needs to be done is a great way to organize your day. This will take a lot of stress off of you and help you and help to prevent those feelings of being overwhelmed. When you forget something important, pressures can mount, so take the precaution of finding a way to organize your tasks that works for you.

Write out your tasks in detail, and prioritize them. Once you have a list telling you exactly what you need to do, you’ll find that you have a lot more energy to actually do them, instead of constantly thinking about them and whether you’ve forgotten something. Avoiding unnecessary stress is a great way of avoiding the potential for relapse.

Of all the tips for holding down a job while in recovery, this one is among the most important.

Eliminate Distractions

One of the biggest distractions in the office can be your cell phone. Surfing the web or social media during your breaks just fills your head with thoughts not related to your day. If you can truly manage such a distraction, fine, then do it. If you can’t, consider leaving your cell phone tucked away for the day. Social media are killers of productivity so if you don’t need your phone for work purposes, try turning it off while you’re at work or leaving it out of your sight.

The last thing your boss wants to see is you messing around on your phone when you should be doing actual work. Getting fired would be very stressful.

Make a conscious effort to concentrate on work and not be distracted by other things that may be happening around you. Working while in recovery is much easier if you go into it knowing that a little bit of organization of your day will go a long way towards preventing stress.

Take Breaks

Try not to skip your launch or scheduled breaks. These brief rest periods will help you ease back into the workforce. There are various articles detailing why taking a proper lunch break away from your desk is more beneficial to both the company and employee than having staff work through lunch.

In addition to taking a well-deserved lunch break, if you’re feeling unfocused during business hours and can’t seem to get anything done, why not take a short break? Sometimes all you need to get back on track is a brief interruption to refresh your mind and keep those cravings at bay.

Stretches and exercise are great ways to use your break time. Consider a walk with co-workers or a little exercise in your company’s game room, if they have one. If you’re finding that cravings are becoming unbearable, try to remind yourself of how well you’re doing and why you decided to quit using substances in the first place. You’ve come so far, do whatever it takes to prevent a relapse.

Be Open With Your Boss

It’s very important to make sure that you and your boss are on the same page. If you feel that you’ll need to reorganize your working hours, take breaks, or do anything else that’ll make your work experience during recovery a bit easier, consult your boss before you make any decisions and see what they think about it.

This will build trust between you and your employer and help you both construct a plan that you can both work with, without sacrificing overall productivity.

Work/Life Balance

After work, just like everyone else in the world, you deserve a little you-time. This time can be spent doing anything that helps you balance the stress of a job with not only your life, but your recovery journey. Spending quality time with friends or family is a good idea. Taking up a hobby, especially one that includes exercise is a highly, highly recommended activity.

Here in Southern California, our Orange Country addiction recovery treatment centers are in the heart of one of the country’s best recreational areas. Most of Renaissance Recovery’s Orange County addiction treatment facilities are within blocks of the beach. They’re surrounded by the charming little towns like Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Our residents often go on bike rides, play beach volleyball, basketball, go on hikes, or do activities like paint-balling or skydiving, for the adventurous.

There’s something for everyone, men and women alike.

The point is that even if you’ve been sober your whole life, a work-life balance is important – it’s even more important if you’re going through the recovery journey.

Working while in recovery is not only possible, it’s recommended. It helps prepare you for your new life. It helps build your self-confidence, and helps move you’re a little closer to your independence and self-reliance.

Job Resources

There are several job resources online to assist with your job search. At Renaissance Recovery, once we’ve transitioned you to sober living, you’ll be ready to rejoin the workforce. While we have programs to assist with job placement, there are several online job resources for people in your situation, like this one.

Top 5 Things to Remember About Working While in Recovery

  1. A job is good preparation for your return to a normal life. It’s far better to ease into a job while you have the support of your recovery center brothers and sisters.
  2. Choose a job where you can do the work without it taxing your physical limits, but one where can you learn a skill or advance your learning of a particular skillset
  3. Be open and honest with your boss about your recovery process. Chances are, he or she knows someone who has gone through the process, too.
  4. Maintain a work/life balance. All work and no play, as they say.
  5. Find a hobby that includes exercise. Whether it’s bicycle riding, ball sports, fishing, or whatever calms you, remember how important this balanc

If you’re a Man or a Woman Looking for Addiction Treatment in Orange County, California, Call Us Today. Most treatment plans are covered under most Private Health Insurance plans.

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At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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