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Tips for Returning to Work After a Relapse

Julie Morris-May 24, 2021

Heading back to your professional life is a natural step in the addiction recovery process. In fact, work can be beneficial to sobriety as it creates purpose, connects people to a social network, and contributes to one’s sense of identity. That being said, work can come with myriad stressors (a problematic boss, unruly co-workers, etc.) that promote addictive coping mechanisms such as alcohol consumption and drug use. Returning to work after a relapse can be particularly difficult and may require you to take a few steps to manage workplace stress. Ask for Help Relapse recovery is a complex process that often requires help from addiction experts. If you have been in contact with an addiction treatment professional, consider continuing this relationship even if you feel equipped to cope on your own. If you have not yet worked with a professional, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to be connected to an addiction professional in your area. From counselling to outpatient programs, there are resources available to help get you back on track after a relapse. Working with the mental health professionals at Creative Counseling and Studio during stressful situations can reduce your likelihood of another relapse. In addition to professional help, try surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family members. At the same time, avoid individuals who encourage addictive behaviours. No matter who you choose to be in your support network, ensure these individuals want to see you succeed on the sobriety path. When you decide to begin looking for work, find people (or mentors) who will help you get ready for the workplace. This could include anything from polishing your resume to picking out suitable attire for interviews. Also, look up common interview questions online and ask your friends or loved ones to help you practice. Although it may have been a while since you’ve interviewed for a position, you’ll soon feel your old self-confidence returning if you take some time to practice before the big day. Forgiving Yourself For years, addiction has been associated with low self-esteem and self-confidence. Not only can this make an individual more prone to substance abuse, but it can also make it difficult to remain in recovery. After a relapse, you may feel guilt and shame. While it may be impossible to eradicate these feelings, accepting them and moving forward is incredibly beneficial to overall mental health. Forgiveness is the process of acknowledging your value as a person and not letting past actions determine who you are. This process involves letting go of past missteps as well providing yourself with the tools to succeed in sobriety. Forgiving yourself after a relapse is an essential part of preventing future transgressions. Create and Adjust Sobriety Strategy As you return to work, it's important to prepare for how you will handle work-related stress. This is especially pertinent if your relapse was tied to your work life. Because there is a strong correlation between work stress and drug/alcohol abuse, you'll want to have a plan in place to ward off another relapse. Creating a sobriety strategy involves developing effective, healthy coping mechanisms during times of stress. For example, if you feel the need to drink after a stressful day, you need to have a process in place to help mitigate these feelings. Maybe this involves calling your addiction sponsor or a close family or friend. Alternatively, many people find it helpful to adopt healthy hobbies to replace their former addictive behaviors. After a relapse, it is necessary to adjust your sobriety strategy. For example, if a particular co-worker encouraged you to have a drink after a stressful day, you may need to develop a strategy to avoid similar encounters. Making needed changes to your sobriety strategy can ensure that your coping mechanisms stay relevant and effective. For many of us, our homes can be a source of stress which makes relapse more likely. By creating a less stressful environment at home through cleaning, decluttering, and opening your windows, you can create positive energy and prevent negative thoughts. Returning to work after a relapse can be difficult. For many, workplace stress can make it more difficult to stick to the recovery path. Because of this, it is necessary to develop healthy coping mechanisms in response to stress. Whether it’s talking to a professional, reminding yourself of your personal worth, or adjusting your sobriety strategy, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of another relapse.

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