It is time to go back to work.
Let’s face it: those words are always difficult to hear, whether it’s Sunday evening and you are anticipating the long week ahead or you have been gone on a lovely vacation that is now coming to an end. Even if you love your job, you may feel a little dispirited or stressed about going back after some time off.
When you are returning to work after time in a residential treatment center, however, the stress is likely even more challenging to overcome. There are any number of things you might worry about. How will your team members respond to your return (whether they know where you have been or not)? How much work has piled up in your absence? Will your supervisor treat you differently or be willing to grant you additional time off for your recovery? And the most critical question of all: could returning to work make it more difficult to stay sober?
Your Story to Tell – Or Not to Tell
When you get back to work, it is likely your coworkers will have questions. If they know where you’ve been, they might have a natural curiosity about what rehab is like and whether you found it helpful. If they don’t know where you’ve been, they will no doubt have questions about that. If they suspect you have a substance abuse disorder, they may wonder if you have been seeking treatment. If they don’t know about your challenges with drugs or alcohol, their imaginations may have cooked up all kinds of scenarios to explain your absence.
Here is the most important thing to remember: your story belongs to you. While you likely had to share your plans to seek treatment with your supervisor and the human resources department, they are required to keep that information confidential. That leaves the decision as to whether or not to share details with your coworkers entirely up to you.
Some might argue that being honest about your struggle would help destigmatize the act of entering a residential treatment program for a substance abuse disorder. That’s a noble goal, of course, but it is not your responsibility to battle long-standing assumptions and misconceptions about rehab. Your responsibility is your own long-term sobriety. If keeping your journey to yourself supports that goal, you should not feel any pressure to become a spokesperson for treatment.
Does Your Job Work For or Against Your Sobriety?
Speaking of long term sobriety, one important thing to consider as you return to the workplace is whether or not your current job supports your sobriety. Was the stress of the job a contributing factor in your substance abuse? Is the workplace culture (or even its primary business) built around alcohol? Do you have a good relationship with your coworkers? Do you find your supervisor difficult to work for?
If it seems likely that your present employment may contribute to the risk of relapse, it might be time to pursue a new job. That said, you will probably not want to leave your current job until you have secured another. While the stress of your job may offer challenges, the financial stress of not being employed must also be taken into account. Long and short: you should be honest with yourself about ways in which your current position might undermine your sobriety and take steps to minimize that possibility—even if it means finding someplace else to work as quickly as possible.
The Benefits of Being on the Job
While it is certainly true that your job can create or contribute to conditions that make it difficult to maintain your sobriety, it is important to note that steady employment can also be quite beneficial for a person in recovery.
After all, a job is something that requires ongoing focus and as such, it may serve as a powerful distraction from cravings. The sense of accomplishment that comes from being good at one’s job may also boost self-esteem, which in turn supports sobriety. And, in the right environment, the camaraderie among coworkers can provide some of the social support needed to keep the dangers of relapse at bay. While some of your peers may be judgmental, odds are there are others on your team who will continue to value your work and your friendship.
Assuming your employer is in compliance with the ADA and FMLA and you enjoy and feel proud of your work, staying in your position may, in fact, be the best option for you as you pursue a life free from the influence of drugs and alcohol.
We Are Ready to Work for You
When you are looking for a treatment option for yourself or a loved one, you want to find a place that will put in the hard work to support ongoing recovery. At Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Henryville, IN, we take our jobs very seriously, and we are ready to provide top notch, personalized care as well as ongoing resources as residential treatment ends and you or your loved one return home and to the workplace. Sometimes the most important job is taking care of yourself. Wooded Glen Recovery Center can give you the tools to get the job done.