Welcome back! Whether you’re returning to a former position or starting fresh, life after rehab means eventually rejoining the workforce. This can be a mixed bag. Some days, you might be eager and excited to return to something familiar, structured and routine. Other days, however, you might not feel ready or like your sobriety is fragile. This is a normal concern as your body readjusts to life without substances.
When the big day arrives, returning to work is filled with both hope and fear. What will your new work-life be like? What’s happened in the workplace since you left? Can you manage stress and stay sober without the daily support you enjoyed in drug rehab?
The Ultimate Guide to Returning to Work After Rehab
Be Prepared for Tough Questions
“It’s great to see you! Where have you been?” It’s only 8 am and you’ve barely made it through the door, yet your faced with a personal decision: to be honest about your absence or offer an alternative explanation.
Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, you’re legally allowed to take medical leave without providing intimate or specific details (given that you’ve been professionally diagnosed). You’re also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
If disclosing the true nature of your leave gets in the way of your sobriety, you’re not obligated to reveal everything. But honestly is almost always the best choice.
Clearly, the situation can get sticky: yes, you’re entitled to anonymity. After all, openly talking about addiction could lead to circulating rumors or gossip. But also know that some coworkers will be inspired by your courage and can be positive additions to your support network.
While how you decide to answer these questions is up to you, it’s generally best to save the personal details for your sponsor, therapist and closest personal friends. Be prepared to answer these tough questions by preparing a few answers before returning to work. The more prepared you are to answer these questions, the less likely they are to catch you off guard or leave you flustered.
You are in control of your story.
Be A Familiar Friend, Not A Stranger
As you return to your place of employment, you might feel like a stranger in a familiar environment. There might be new coworkers and workflow processes might have changed. Someone has probably taken over some of your responsibilities – or they’ve been split among several people. Not to mention that while you’ve gone through a major transformation, chances are most of your coworkers carried on with their day-to-day activities. You’re a new person in a familiar environment.
The best advice is to give yourself time. You don’t have to feel rushed to settle into your new role at work. As a newly recovering addict, it’s perfectly fine to take things slowly. Trying to get back into the work routine can create unnecessary stress and pressure, putting you at risk for relapse. Also, be careful in which outside work events you choose to attend. If alcohol will be a focus at an after work function, it’s probably best to refrain and lean on people in your support system. Your sobriety and health should be priority!
Look for the Good in Every Day
Recovery begins with you, so it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Remember, what you think becomes what you do, and what you do eventually becomes who you are. Will there be challenges in returning to work after drug rehab? Of course. But there will also be many positive things to look forward to in each day.
Acknowledge the good that you encounter. Accept shortcomings and mistakes, and make amends so you can move on without feeling weighed down. The good thing about returning to work is that the routine and your responsibilities can keep you distracted from things that might otherwise tempt you.
Take Care of Your Physical and Emotional Health
Responsibilities in the workplace can lead to stress. It’s often the nature of the beast. Being in good physical and mental health will help reduce the stress so that you can be more productive at work and stick to your recovery plan.
There are multiple ways to accomplish this:
- Continue eating a healthy diet. It’s fine to eat out every once in a while with your coworkers, but consider bringing your lunch and relearning how to eat a healthy diet. By eating nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and protein, you will help your body continue to heal from the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Plus, you’ll feel better at work!
- Exercise! Work can be tiring, but exercise can keep you feeling refreshed. Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Wake a quick walk during your lunch break. Even outside of work, try mind-body workouts such as yoga to increase your mental and physical strength. Your body needs physical stimulus to heal and repair itself.
- Prioritize healthy sleeping habits. Sleep is not a luxury. It’s a necessity for healthy living, especially when you have to balance the rigors of life and work. Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep is healthy both physically and mentally. Sleep allows your body to heal, and it ensures your mind is in prime working condition so you can make better decisions at work.
Enjoy Your Life Without Substances
Returning to work after drug rehab is a new beginning. This is an exciting opportunity to continue growing personally and professionally. For the support and addiction resources you need, contact us today.