Career Change - Worth it for Sobriety?

Old 10-27-2019, 02:25 PM
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Career Change - Worth it for Sobriety?

Hi guys! I work in law. Drinking and happy hours are part of legal culture. I am torn. I love my work. I live for the thrill of a challenging case.

Paralegal work can be thankless. The hours are long and inconsistent. The stress is insane.

I am now 101 days sober. I have a partner who loves me. I have a small, fluffy, obnoxious cat who I adore. I don't care about working at a prestigious law firm. I just want a quiet, calm life. I want children (god help those future small humans--both myself and my partner have Aspergers.)

What do you guys think? Is it worth changing careers for sobriety? Have any of you ever been in the same boat?
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Old 10-27-2019, 02:36 PM
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I have always felt that my sobriety was intimately connected to my occupation, and I have changed careers to preserve my sobriety.
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Old 10-27-2019, 03:17 PM
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I agree with Coldfusion- my work life is entwined with my recovery now.

That said - I don't think it is a must for most people. It is fortunate if anyone CAN, if that makes sense. Lots of folks must stay in x or y job or field, etc.

101 days is a place where I felt a lot of things shift forward. I wasn't ready to make big work changes, and at that point I was still working as a server in the restaurant world. I'm still in the industry but in different roles.

My sobriety and life in recovery always come first, and I believe that any changes I have made or will make need to be spiritually guided to best support my life in that context. Translation - it's ok and worth any perceived risk to make a work change, if it's in the best interest as I can decide at the time, for my recovery.

Glad you are here.
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Old 10-27-2019, 04:49 PM
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Hi aspiringwriter

my main job when i quit was being a musician - being around debauchery I couldn't keep doing that (and noone would hire me anyway) so I walked away.

I came back to it about a year later and its been fine since.

I think a decision like that is a very personal one. The only thing I'd offer is...if you do decide to quit, I'd make sure you have another job to go to. These are tough economic times.

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Old 10-27-2019, 08:31 PM
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all my siblings are lawyers (yeah, i know; sigh!and then thereís me), and none of them are caught up in staying around after work for happy hour or drinking.
just saying itís entirely possible to be a lawyer and go home to family life when work is done.
this comes down to you: if you feel it endangers your sobriety, consider changing it. however, wherever else you go, there will also be happy hours and people drinking.
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Old 10-27-2019, 10:13 PM
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I have a very stressful job.

I did not quit. I am constantly evaluating the pros and cons of my job and the pros still win out so I have so far kept my employment.

I did however, cut back quite a bit in the beginning (I am per diem) and later, looked for ways to reduce work stress that were under my control: becoming more organized, developing better work habits, maintaining focus, arranging sleep, nutrition and exercise better around my workdays, etc.

As far as going to work in a drinking environment, that’s up to your discretion. I live with a husband who drinks, gosh everyone I know over 40 drinks, it’s everywhere so my alcohol quit was an internal decision, not one that I would allow to be determined by the whims of my environment.

If you love law, I’d think carefully about this. Your emotional response to environmental drinking triggers will change with long term sobriety.
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Old 10-28-2019, 04:34 AM
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PS to my comment- I know tons of lawyers in AA. Many (most) of them men in their 60s now. Def stories of pressure in many ways, but all have found a way to stay sober, change partner status or cases or...and ultimately make the same choices any of us does in any job.

I work in the restaurant industry. First yr sober I spent 3 mo at a fast food place (uh, talk about humbling) then a yr back serving. Diff positions since (now is 3yr 8 mo). Many say you can't be sober in the restaurant world - you def can, and I am part of a large "movement" in the industry now.

Wishing you good choices and success in every part of a sober life!
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:58 PM
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Im facing a similar decision. I love my job but it causes a lot of stress because a lot of the folks I work with have a lot of conflict and violence in their lives. I feel like I take a lot of their pain home with me and I don't have a good way of dealing with it. I feel like I need to be a strong support for them and have good solutions for people to try and implement but often things only get worse for them. I take a lot of that emotional turmoil with me and I tried to get rid of it by going out to the bars and drinking with folks who had no connection to my work and Id just blow off steam. That ended up making things worse over time as my personal life became very self destructive when I had time off.

Im told Im very good at my job and Id like to continue and soon Ill have to make the decision if I want to go back to it or if I want to do something different that seems less stressful for me.

I wonder how others deal with this when their livelihood causes a lot of the stress and triggers in our lives.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:43 PM
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I've heard how hard it is being a paralegal is a tough job. I've hired lawyers twice and I'm aware the paralegals did most of the work.
Anyway, I worked in a drinking culture, too. Many, many alcoholics. Including me.
I loved what I did when I was working full time, and wouldn't consider doing something else.
So, something had to change. Me. No one was forcing alcohol down my throat, it was me.
I had a coworker who got sober, and he was a bad case, while I was working in another town and came back he was sober through AA.
I thought, hmmm maybe I can do that.
Eventually I did. And got sober. It wasn't easy. But what worth doing is?
Anyway, I worked in the same profession for twenty six years. The last five years sober.
It worked out for me, and I hope whatever you choose it works out for you.
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Old 11-01-2019, 03:45 AM
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I am a CPA who currently works for a private company. I started my career with a "Big 4" accounting firm. What a drunken culture it was. I think the work and stress is similar to law firms. Because the finance function at my company included the responsibility of contract negotiation I have spent a lot of time working with attorneys from several different firms of varying sizes on all sorts of transactions including the ultimate stressor - company acquisitions. So I certainly understand where you are coming from. Anyway my observation here is that while some law firms had a heavy drinking culture there were many other firms where drinking was a much smaller part of the culture. My point here is that you may be able to change firms instead of your career.
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Old 11-01-2019, 07:17 PM
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I just wanted to echo what others have mentioned. My friend owns a law practice and he doesnít drink. As far as stress goes.... My job can be stressful at times too. However after 2 years of sobriety and working a program of recovery through AA Iím much better at handling it now. In my first year of sobriety though I skipped many work happy hours etc.
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Old 11-02-2019, 11:34 AM
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Iíll tell you what I was told in early sobriety. Donít willingly make any major life changes in the first year of sobriety. My emotions were all over the place Iím glad I rode out my feelings and when I had a more stable emotional foundation with sobriety I could clearly make decisions. All that said if you feel being in your current situation will cause you to drink then a change may be needed...your sobriety should always come first. 👍
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Old 11-02-2019, 11:38 AM
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^^Yes, for me, nothing was off the table if it was protecting my sobriety.
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Old 11-03-2019, 03:18 PM
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I think leaving my nursing job has been instrumental in my recovery, but I was in a very toxic workplace as well as the job being stressful. It was unthinkable for me to leave because I have always dreamed of being a nurse and was a very good one for 25 years. Making that change though has allowed me to focus on getting better.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:19 PM
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Hey, I work in an office where there is a lot of socializing, and by that I mean drinking and partying. I avoid most of the happy hours since I try and stay away from bars, but I try to participate during in-office parties (albeit sober). It's difficult because it's an ingrained part of my company's culture, and I haven't had an opportunity to bond with my coworkers since that mostly happens after work at the happy hour. I just try to remember that I am a worker among workers, and try to be of service and mind my own business. My evenings are taken up with AA meetings and service, so I really can't stick around. I know this probably hurts me a little in terms of the social pecking order, but my side of the street is clean, I'm doing my job to the best of my ability. I've though about leaving but I have a good salary with benefits, I don't put in crazy hours, and I'm able to take care of myself. I have been in situations where I have had to leave because they were really toxic. It's all a process, it's good you came here and talked about it!
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