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When Is the Right Time to Start a Job in My Recovery Journey?

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Has addiction put a halt to your career? Do you wonder when you can transition back to a new job after rehab treatment? These are questions many recovering individuals struggle with. Job loss is common among people with substance addiction problems. Their physical and mental health conditions may deteriorate to a point when they can no longer function at work. Even after recovery, working at a job can be stressful and challenging.

Addiction and Unemployment 

Addiction affects people from all walks of life. When it disrupts a person’s life in serious ways, he or she might experience job loss due to poor work performance. This connection between addiction and unemployment is common because chronic use of drugs and alcohol may impair one’s cognitive function as well as mental health. Absenteeism and loss of productivity are also common outcomes leading to job loss.

While substance addiction often precedes unemployment, it is likely that job loss may also put people at higher risk for substance use. Due to financial instability, unemployment creates a high level of stress, and as people try to self-soothe by drugs and alcohol, they may gradually develop an addiction. In sum, the connection between addiction and unemployment is a two-way street.

The Prospect of Work in Recovery 

Because recovery has several different stages, depending on the severity of addiction, it is hard to generalize when an individual has a better chance of transitioning back to work. For people with severe addiction symptoms who have achieved early sobriety, it is often recommended that one prioritize recovery as the first task in life. They might be easily triggered by stress in life and need to avoid stressful workplace situations.

For people who have maintained sobriety for months and are experienced in managing stress and triggers, maybe it is time to plan about going back into the labor force. Even for these people, they should avoid certain job categories or industries that are high-stress. These include jobs that require longer hours, more intensity, or frequent business travels. As a rule, a recovery-supportive job should leave enough time and space for you to still participate in support group meetings and other alumni activities.

The Importance of Aftercare 

Your recovery does not stop after you have completed rehab treatment or reached early sobriety. Like other chronic diseases, substance addiction requires significant aftercare. The risk of relapse is always present, no matter how long you have been sober. You should not allow complacency to grow in your heart, instead, treat recovery as a life-long journey.

In general, people who go through treatment and recovery are recommended to transition back to a job only when they have achieved a certain level of stability in their skills of maintaining progress. The signs of such stability include regular participation in support group meetings, self-awareness about triggers, and proven skills to manage emotional stress. Such a level of stability does not happen in early sobriety. If managing life without substances is still a bit challenging on its own, you should not take on extra responsibilities at your job. With time, that level of stability will come if you work on recovering.

The Benefits of Work to Recovery 

When you have matured in skillfully maintaining sobriety, adding a work component to your life can greatly enhance your recovery. Of course, you need to consider what kind of job to do. There are certain occupations or industries that promise a high-stress environment. For the sake of your recovery, it is best to steer away from these over-competitive careers that demand overwork, heavy workload, or frequent business travels.

You need to choose a lighter job that can work around your recovery routines and family life. You want this job to help you achieve a work-life balance, not to sabotage it. A recovery-friendly job may greatly improve your financial situation and mental health. After all, unemployment is also a stressor for adults.

When looking for a new job, you also need to explore what the company culture is. Steer away from toxic personalities because they tend to increase work-related stress. A workplace that encourages employees to practice self-care and respects their work-life boundaries can be an ideal place for recovering individuals.

Re-entering the job market during recovery is challenging, but it can also be exciting. When interviewing for new job opportunities, try to use your story to your own benefit. If you decide to reveal your past addiction and ongoing recovery to the new employer, make sure you focus on the positives, such as the main skills you have learned during treatment. Depending on your own stage of recovery stability, you may also want to choose a part-time job or freelance opportunities. 

Do you want to transition to your career during recovery? It is important to assess your progress before making a decision. You may seek advice from health professionals who have experience in assisting people to make this transition. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, CA, we can assess your progress and advise you. We understand the importance of dual diagnosis treatment because addiction often has co-occurring mental health issues. Believing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, we offer the most customized plans that accommodate your needs. If you want to stabilize your recovery progress while preparing for the transition, there are various levels of care you can choose from. Our experienced staff help working professionals maintain a work-life-recovery balance. We are onsite 24/7 to offer you support. Here you will meet other people who are just like you, hoping to make the critical transition back to a fulfilling career. Call (714) 492-1119 today.

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