Returning to the Workplace Post-Rehabilitation

You did it, you sought help in rehabilitation for your drug or alcohol addiction and successfully reached recovery. You are officially at a point where you can return to society as a functioning human being. But you might be at a point in your life where you are constantly asking, “What now?”

Perhaps you are confused about how to handle your new daily routine or balancing new hobbies. Some are not sure how to manage their social lives and family gatherings in a post-addiction lifestyle. Others fear the consequences and situations they will face at work with their colleagues.

The last possibility is a particularly common situation, and many former addicts are not sure how to cope with it. There are many common questions and problems that can arise, but also plenty of ways to deal with them. Preparation can help you talk with co-workers and lessen your anxieties around the issue.

Common Scenarios

Regardless of how healthy you are when you return to your daily routine post-recovery, there will always be unavoidable situations. You may consider simply sidestepping them, but this is not always possible. For example, you may feel pressure to perform well after your absence, regardless of the shaky transition. Ultimately, you should work within realistic boundaries and explain to higher-ups what your current comfort zone is.

In addition, you will likely be invited to celebrations and festivities at work—some even mandatory. This can include openings, welcoming new employees, holiday parties, or even simple get-togethers. If you battled with alcohol addiction, chances are these will be difficult since many offer alcoholic drinks.

Though you might find a way to skip one or two, avoiding the issue does not help solve it. You will not only have to face potential addictive substances but socialize with many of your co-workers post-recovery. These can lead to awkward social interactions that set off anxiety, like conversations about your absence or addiction.

Commonly Asked Questions

Humans are naturally curious creatures, and we may ask a lot of questions that reflect that. When someone we know is missing or is not feeling well, we want to know why or how to help. Topics like addiction can be sensitive, especially when trying to keep it confidential. There may be times where you have to decide whether to work around these questions or answer them.

Among the top three questions you may run into are:

  • “Where were you?”
  • “Are you still an addict?”
  • “Are you cured now?”

Above all else, you must remember that you are under no obligation to answer questions you do not want to. It may take courage, but simply explaining that you are not comfortable is the best way to handle it. In most cases, simply answering “I’m not comfortable with talking about it,” is enough.

Some co-workers may be more brazen and insensitive about some questions and conversations. Do not be afraid to shut them down and end the conversation there. If you do feel comfortable addressing the situation, do not be afraid to discuss positives more than negatives. Simply answering with a response such as “I’m currently getting treatment,” can be enough to address it.

In the end, focusing on positive aspects and rehearsing the discussion is crucial. Being prepared for these questions will lessen the anxiety associated with it and ease you back into work.

Strategies to Handle Work-Related Stress

While stress around addiction and rehab is unavoidable, there are ways to make handling your apprehension bearable. For one, you must be willing to communicate with management despite your concerns. By keeping workmates aware of the circumstances and your feelings, you can help mitigate any potential problems. Secondly, it helps to find trustworthy colleagues who you can confide with, trust to watch you, and have your back.

Finally, you must be willing to not only know your own limits but know when to leave uncomfortable situations. This does not mean to escape at the first sign of stress. Rather, to know when to exit if you are at risk for cravings or bad behavior. By monitoring your own behavior, altering it, and reaching out to others, you can make your transition back to the workplace as smooth as possible.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact an Alternative Treatment & Rehab in Tennessee. You might be interested in Discovery Place’s own treatment center alternatives, such as our 30 Day Alternative Residential Addiction Recovery Program or our Long Term Alternative Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-725-0922.