Striking a Balance Between Recovery and Work
Reaching milestones in sobriety after a long time of substance use is an accomplishment well worth celebrating, but it does not mean that the journey stops here. Staying abstinent from all substances isn't easy, and this early stage can be particularly challenging as you face the temptations of cravings and adjust to your new lifestyle. In addition, there are also demands from work and social life. Learning how to manage these different areas in your early sobriety is crucial for achieving long-term recovery.
Working While Recovering
Goals in recovery and at work will compete for your attention early on in sobriety. Statistics show that 9% of working adults report that they are in recovery. For these people, workplace dynamics can be a significant challenge on the path of recovery. Not every workplace is supportive of recovering individuals. Social stigma about addiction is so entrenched that most workplaces are not informed about how to do better.
For the recovering individual, one needs to be more intentional in self-care and seeking professional support while working. For example, prioritize recovery as your top thing at this stage of life, followed by family and friends who form your support system. Although your place of work is where you spend the most time every day, try to learn how to emotionally disengage from its significance. This balancing strategy can help you build an emotional buffer against potential stress arising from the workplace, either by relationship problems or simply heavy workloads.
Making Amends at Work
Addiction sometimes may have affected your work performance and relationships with colleagues and your employer in the past. Early sobriety is a time to make amends and repair these relationships. The most important thing is to rebuild their trust in you as a person. Make your new enthusiasm for work a sustainable one. Thank your colleagues who had helped you when you were struggling at work in the past.
Even the most recovery-friendly workplaces may present unique challenges. It would help if you learned how to practice self-care and draw up healthy boundaries. Discern when stress and anxiety build up within you and try some relaxation techniques to calm yourself down. Avoid friction with colleagues who are not friendly with you. Understand where their resentment or hostility comes from but refrain from engaging with it. Self-care in this aspect means staying away from stressful situations.
Relying on Your Support System
Stressful situations are bound to appear in life, and you should lean on a strong support system when these times occur. Your support system can be your family and friends who supported you through early recovery. Maybe your 12-step group is open to know about your progress at work, or you can discuss the situation with a therapist who knows about your medical history. Make use of these resources and networks as part of a relapse prevention plan.
When you feel that stress at work has accumulated to a level that begins to weigh you down and trigger cravings, it should be your priority to get the maximum help you can from your support system. Do not underestimate what stress can do to your recovery. Remember the principles of humility and honesty. Admit that you have failed before and may fail another time. This humble alertness can help you a long way.
Strategies to Stay Sober in the Workplace
Apart from the relationship issues and overworking that tend to induce stress, the workplace can also present you with visible triggers that may sabotage your success towards recovery. A colleague might invite you for a drink to catch up. The company may have a happy hour serving alcohol. You need to prepare for these situations mentally. Sometimes the wisest decision is to say “no” or not to attend if you truly do not feel comfortable in these situations. Below are a few practical strategies:
- Journal daily and keep track of your stressors at work. Gradually build up your preparedness and resilience when similar stressors appear.
- Set up boundaries so that you can separate yourself from your job. These may involve setting limits on when to respond to your boss’ demands or other work-related items.
- Take time off work regularly by making use of vacation time or a free Friday afternoon. Engage in healthy and relaxing activities to unwind.
- When the stressors at work endanger your chances towards sustainable recovery, speak to your boss and describe your needs. Consider this part of self-advocacy and self-care.
Maybe you can take one step further by proactively helping your workplace become more recovery-friendly by lowering barriers to seeking care and reducing the stigma around substance use.
Are you facing challenges balancing work, life, and recovery during early sobriety? It is essential to know that recovery comes from connecting with all areas of your life in a more profound way. To achieve this restoration, you need to practice honesty and humility. One strategy is to work with an interventionist who can coach you in different stages of recovery towards long-term success. South Florida Intervention offers the best experience. We have experienced interventionists who have helped thousands of people succeed before you. They are compassionate, professional, and trustworthy guides on your path towards recovery. Our interventionists will spend time to know your needs and match you with tailor-made treatment plans. They offer recovering coaching and case management for your specific needs, and their strategies also include sober escorts and parent coaching. Call us at (202) 390-2273. We are the best team you can find. Do not wait another day to start recovery.