Recovery is most definitely a new start . . . maybe even a restart! You’ve made the decision to get sober and enjoy life without any filters. It’s an amazing experience to witness the world in this new, clear light. While sobriety is the start of a new lifestyle, other lifestyle routines will eventually pick back up again. Grocery shopping, weekly dinners with friends, and that chess tournament you take part in twice a month are all on that list. And so is working. For most of us, our livelihood depends on our jobs. Going back to work while in recovery is exciting and something you should be proud of. Whether you’re starting a new job or going back to a previous job, there are things to keep in mind when entering the working world again.
Getting Back Into Your Groove
A new job presents new challenges for anyone, regardless of whether you’ve been through recovery. Similarly, returning to a job you held before recovery can also seem like a whole new job given your new sober lifestyle. The first – and most obvious – thing you’ll want to do in either situation is get your bearings. Making sure you feel comfortable in your work environment is essential to your mental health. Understand your role and responsibilities within the company. It might even help to keep a working journal of your tasks and accomplishments to help you stay grounded. While you may not encounter any new responsibilities, understanding that things might not be exactly the same as they were when you left is key. Stay flexible and keep an open mind. You did this job before and you can do it again!
We are a world of people that like to know everything. Translate that into work life after recovery and you’ll quickly understand that your co-workers will want to know about you. If you’re returning to a previous job, people will want to know where you’ve been. And if you’re starting a new job, people will want to know where you came from. What you choose to divulge is completely up to you. That said, having a few co-workers that know your experience with recovery might help you feel more balanced and grounded.
Managing Work Stress
Work can be stressful. We’ve all had those days where we feel overwhelmed and overworked. Maintaining control in these situations is important. Keep a positive attitude and remind yourself that you can do your work and you can do it well. Remember that you also have support groups that can help you keep a healthy mind. Utilize your resources, whether that means calling a friend or going to a meeting. Asking for help is completely okay. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re the biggest asset to yourself and your employer when you’re sober.
Return to Work Agreements
If you’re returning to a job you held before recovery, your employer might require you to participate in a Return to Work Agreement. This is a written agreement of the employer’s expectations regarding an employee’s work experience after recovery. While requirements may vary, typical requirements might include submitting to random drug tests and additional supervision. Make sure you understand the full requirements and consequences in your agreement and be honest with yourself and your employer if you are struggling with the requirements so that the best solution can be found.