Getting Back To Work During Addiction Recovery

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 30th January 2023 | All Sources

Getting Back To Work During Addiction Recovery

In the midst of your rehabilitation process, it may seem like it will be impossible to get back to work. Not only is rehabilitation a full-time job, at the beginning of the process, but also former addicts can face discrimination. This may be from potential employers and people that they worked with during their addiction, and can make the idea of getting back to work daunting.

Getting back to work is important, though, as it can provide an element of stability and routine that can benefit your recovery. A study by the Center for the Study of Addictions and Recovery in 2012 noted that getting a job after rehab is related to both lower rates of relapse and more positive treatment outcomes than those who stay out of work. There is no need to rush, but once you feel that you have conquered the physical limitations of your addiction there is no harm in looking for employment that you think that you can handle.

Some ways to make sure that your job search, or returning to your last job, doesn’t take its toll are:

Get help

If you have been working with a rehabilitation centre or service, such as Cassiobury Court, ask them for help with your job search. A counsellor will be able to fit this into your continuing care plan so that you have achievable goals and methods of getting there that feel manageable. Don’t forget that you can return to your counsellor or sponsor at any time if you feel that the stress of job searching or working is making you feel close to relapse.

You might want to look into employers who have specific work programmes for former addicts. Not only will these employers be more understanding and less judgemental, but working with other people in rehabilitation can make you feel that there are more people on your side and that you can relate to.

Take it slow

Just because you are ready to go back to work doesn’t mean that you can go back to the intensity that you were used to in the past. Studies show significant links between stress and relapse, with the brain primed to seek out automatic stress relief mechanisms such as alcohol or drugs when too much stress is applied.

In the early days after rehab, look into working part-time, or even volunteering, to get yourself used to the routine and to having a small amount of pressure put on you. Volunteering offers you a very low-pressure way to work, as employers will expect less of you, and you can get great references to help you get paid positions once you have rebuilt your confidence.

Get help from friends and family

See if your friends and family can talk to their own employers about potential positions, or even employ you part-time at their own businesses. Working with people that love you and make you feel secure can go a long way towards making this transition easier.


Handling workplace stress in recovery

When people in recovery are overwhelmed by stress, they might be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol for relief. There are lots of ways to deal with stress, beyond trying to avoid it in the first place.

Talk with your boss

You need to make sure that you and your boss are on the same page about what is expected of you in your job. Ask for a meeting before you begin so that you can discuss your starting/return to work and the difficulties that might be presented to you. Ask them for reassurance that you are not being given more responsibility than you can handle at this point, and work together on a gradual schedule that builds as your confidence does.

Look after yourself

Going back to work can lead to a neglecting of your physical health, as your focus switches from yourself to your employment. This is likely to trigger not only stress but a feeling of being less healthy and comfortable, which could lead to relapse. Make sure that you are:

  • Eating balanced and healthy meals at least three times a day
  • Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Taking your medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements that you need. This is particularly important for those suffering from chronic alcoholism.
  • Drinking lots of water. Dehydration can affect your body in a variety of ways, and you will be surprised how much better a glass of water can make you feel when you are flagging late in the day.
  • Get some exercise every day. Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel happier, and a 2012 study in the Frontiers of Psychiatry journal noted that exercise can be a great factor in preventing relapse for those in recovery from addiction.

Leave the job at work

At the end of each day, it is important to leave the worries and stresses of the day in the workplace so that you can get some proper downtime. Write down a ‘to-do’ list for the next day before you leave so that you can leave work with a clear mind.

Get support

Make sure that you are getting all of the support that you can from family, friends and colleagues. You might think about joining an Alcoholics Anonymous group in your area or continuing with counselling.

Cassiobury Court provides an excellent aftercare programme, including a recovery plan and the ability to receive therapy and treatment as an outpatient if you need it. Aftercare continues for months after your completing inpatient treatment with us and will continue to do so even if you suffer a relapse or require more dedicated support.

Your structured aftercare plan will include information related to the direct challenges you are likely to face when you leave and how to cope with them. The aftercare team is made up of familiar faces you will have worked with during your detox and rehabilitation, as well as former patients who can offer you information and understanding that you might not get anywhere else.

We can be contacted on 01923 369161 or you can text HELP to 83222


John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 30th January 2023

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.