No matter where you are in your career, going back to work after completing treatment can be a challenge. Whether it's the fear of what people will think, the thought that you're out of practice, or being concerned about how you will balance both your recovery and your job, it's important to be thoughtful about how you approach this next phase of your recovery.
Here are a few key steps to take as you get ready to go back to work after treatment:
1. Call Human Resources.
Companies large and small are diverse – and so are their policies. If you didn't speak with your HR department prior to leaving for treatment, consider calling them as you arrange your return to work. They can help you navigate policies, can coach you on how to talk about your recovery in the workplace and can inform you of any rights or benefits you have as you prioritize your mental health and recovery journey.
2. Talk to your boss.
If you have a boss that you trust and one that will act with understanding and tactful, consider talking to them about your experience in treatment and your newfound recovery. Being open and honest with your employer – or direct supervisor – can help you coordinate a schedule that enables you to attend meetings, therapy or outpatient treatment, if you're still involved in a formal treatment program. It may even open the door for a conversation if your experience with addiction formerly impacted your work performance.
3. Take a look at your treatment homework.
Don't throw away your homework from treatment – take it out, review it and find any applicable lessons that can help you on the job. Whether it's having a network of support, coping skills or an exercise on communication, there are many transferrable skills from treatment that will help you at work.
4. Find a routine.
Aside from discussing your recovery needs with your employer, you'll need to find a solid routine to keep up strong recovery practices. Early recovery requires sober support meetings, therapy, good physical health and time to meditate, recharge or relax. All of these elements to a healthy recovery require commitment and dedication. Now that you're headed back to work, your time will be a precious resource. Make a schedule – write it out, get a planner or make a list – and stick to it. Find the meetings you want to attend, plan your therapy sessions and coordinate it with your workplace. The more you can get into a healthy routine, the less you will waver on hard days.
5. Make a list of your goals.
Let's face it – there are some jobs that aren't helpful to the recovery process. If you work in the serving industry, a job with stressful hours or are surrounded by a toxic work environment, you will need to create a plan for where your career is taking you in the future. Plan how you will get a job that better supports your new life in recovery – or your overall career goals – and use your recovery as a springboard to the future. Recovery equips you with skills and traits that will help you along the way, like honesty, transparency, good character and hard work. Now, use these skills to stay sober, and plan ahead for your future career.
No matter if you're in a job for now or a career for life, navigating early recovery can be a challenge. By considering these five elements as you return to work will help you stay sober and prioritize recovery as you learn to balance staying sober with other parts of life. When you're fulfilled and healthy in your recovery, it will show – especially at work.