Text Size

How can you know when you're ready to go back to work?

Knowing when to get your first job in recovery can be a difficult decision:

  • On the positive side, getting a job will keep you busy and therefore keep your mind off alcohol or drugs.
  • However, the first 3 to 6 months of recovery is a stressful time for a recovering person. The stress of balancing a job with recovery meetings, cravings, the demands of family, etc. can be too much for someone struggling every day to not use a substance.

For some addicts and alcoholics, there is no choice. Financial problems caused by the addiction may require some people in recovery to have a job. Others may not have lost their job during their addiction so they may have to return to work as soon as possible in order to keep their job.

Keeping this all in mind, it’s clear that the answer of when to go to work will be different for every recovering person.

If You Can, Take Your Time

Should you have the opportunity to live in a halfway house for a period of 3 to 6 months without working and concentrate on your recovery, you may want to take advantage of this. However, don’t think of this time as free time. Think of it as an opportunity to work on yourself. Prepare yourself for the demands of returning to the working world by developing as many coping skills as you can. Explore your psychological health through counseling so that when you do return to work, you will be prepared.

Make a Plan for Success

Before returning to work, consider having a relapse prevention plan and/or a recovery plan which includes the following:

  • A list of triggers
  • A list of coping skill
  • A gratitude list
  • A daily inventory plan
  • A list of consequences
  • A support group of at least 5 people
  • Someone to be accountable to
  • A plan for healthy eating
  • Maintaining healthy sleeping patterns
  • A plan for managing stress
  • A plan for managing emotions

Use Your Support System

For those who don’t have a choice, it is essential that you have a lot of support to help you through the stressful times:

  1. Make it clear to family, friends and your recovery support group that you will need them whenever you feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of your job.
  2. Be willing to talk about your problems as they arise instead of holding them in and hoping they will go away on their own. If you have a difficult situation arise at work, ask people how they think you should handle it. If your boss or co-workers understand your situation, lean on them for support when problems come up at work.

The most important thing to remember is to be prepared each day to meet the challenges of having a job. Draw on your strengths and seek the support of those who care about you.

About the author Anna Deeds:
I am a recovering addict and a Licensed Professional Counselor. I have over 7 years clean from all substances and more than 10 years from illicit drugs. I work as an addiction counselor and have more than 5 years experience counseling addicts.
Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category

Page last updated Sep 01, 2015

Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Helpful Reading
Beat Cravings with Urge Surfing
Urge Surfing: Beat Cravings and Relapse with a Mindfulness Technique © DavidRphoto
For the next 10 seconds, try not to think of a pink elephant…Impossible, right?! The fact is, the more you try to suppress an impulse to use drugs or alcohol the more fixated your mind becomes on that very impulse, and this is bad news for anyone serious about maintaining their sobriety. Fortunately, you don’t have to drink or use and you don’t have to fight or suppress your cravings, all you have to do is surf over them and they’ll disappear – using a proven mindfulness technique known as urge surfing. Read Article
Addiction Recovery September 27, 2016
Writing a Relapse Prevention Plan
How to Write a Relapse Prevention Plan © enthuan
This article describes what a relapse prevention plan is and how to write an effective plan. It includes ideas for what you can include in a simple relapse prevention plan or a detailed recovery plan. Read Article
Addiction Recovery February 21, 2014 (4)
Distract Yourself! 20 Things to Try before Relapse
The Four Ds – a Simple Relapse Prevention Strategy © Naftels
Learn this simple distraction and breathing exercise that works well to get you through periods of intense cravings. Read Article
Addiction Treatment May 17, 2016
Find Help In...
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.