Managing workplace responsibilities is not always easy for people recovering from substance use disorder (SUD). Some workplaces may accommodate individuals in recovery by providing workplace-supported recovery (WSR) programs. However, not everyone will have access to these services. Healthy coping skills allow people in recovery to return to work while maintaining sobriety. According to the Journal of Addictive Diseases, “Employment . . . consistently emerges as a goal among persons in recovery.” West Coast Recovery Centers uses psychotherapy and other evidence-based methods to help clients balance sobriety and employment.
How Do People Balance Sobriety and Returning to Work?
Many people find the routine of work helpful in managing symptoms of SUD. In addition, employment during early recovery reduces the risk of relapse for some individuals. According to the Journal of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment, “[E]mployment can buffer relapse risk by providing structure, meaning, purpose, and income.” However, many barriers to employment exist for individuals with SUD, making it difficult for them to take advantage of the benefits of working during early recovery.
Some of the challenges people in recovery may face at work include:
- Workplace exposure to alcohol or drugs (e.g., alcohol stocking for grocery store attendants, etc.)
- Coworkers actively misusing alcohol or drug abuse
- Lack of access to support services
- Inflexible scheduling may make it difficult to attend therapy or support meetings
People have difficulty returning to a place of work where one or more coworkers actively misused substances in the past or enabled substance abuse. Balancing sobriety and employment may mean looking for a different position or another workplace. A safe and structured work environment improves mental health and overall well-being. Balancing work and sobriety often means being willing to look for or accept new career opportunities.
How Do Skills Learned in Therapy Help People Balance Sobriety and Work?
Treatment programs use therapy and peer support to help clients build healthy boundaries and new routines. Clients practice coping skills with peers during group therapy and other treatment activities. Coping skills help people overcome the challenge of balancing employment and sobriety more effectively. Clients in treatment or continuing care use coping techniques to manage the side effects and symptoms of SUD during work hours. According to The American Journal on Addictions, “Effective coping is consistently cited as a key ingredient in relapse prevention.”
Some skills clients use to manage stress in the workplace include:
- Active communication
- Setting boundaries
- Conflict resolution
- Stress management
- Social skills
Clients in treatment benefit from creating relapse prevention and crisis management strategies in therapy to ensure they know how to respond to unexpected stressors or triggers in the workplace. People in recovery use the skills they learn to reduce stress and manage behavioral or emotional responses.
Why Is Balancing Sobriety Essential for Work Productivity?
People are more productive at work and have better treatment outcomes if they successfully balance sobriety and work. Many people choose to attend addiction recovery programs while employed. Finding a way to maintain sobriety, work productivity, and self-care is not always easy. Some people may have difficulty saying “no” to additional work tasks or other responsibilities that may interfere with their recovery. Clients benefit from learning to effectively communicate with coworkers and set healthy boundaries with managers.
Clinicians help clients find a balance between work and recovery goals by doing the following:
- Identifying personal and professional limits
- Setting realistic expectations for work and recovery
- Creating relapse prevention and crisis management strategies
- Developing essential coping and life skills
- Identifying potential barriers in employment and problem-solving solutions
People in recovery rely on their care team and support systems to help them identify and overcome challenges in recovery, including issues related to employment or workplace relationships. Creating a healthy work-life balance increases productivity by reducing stress and improving focus.
What Are Some of the Positive Effects of Employment on Recovery?
Employment provides people with a sense of purpose and can significantly improve self-confidence.
A few other positive effects of employment during recovery include:
- Increased structure and stability
- Reduced distractions
- Decreased boredom or unproductive free time
- Positive social interactions
Employment also allows people to practice essential communication and coping skills outside of a treatment setting.
How Can People Reduce Stressors Related to Work and Recovery?
Many people experience everyday stressors at work. Individuals in recovery may have a more difficult time coping with those stressors. Clinicians provide additional support and guidance to individuals struggling with recovery and workplace issues.
Therapy and other forms of treatment help clients manage workplace problems by doing the following:
- Introducing stress management techniques
- Increasing mindfulness and self-awareness
- Improving social skills, including communication and conflict management
Some people work in career fields where they are required to interact with alcohol or drugs. For example, nurses are responsible for managing patient medications. Moving to a different position or finding a new place of employment that better supports a sober lifestyle may be necessary for some individuals in recovery. West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients with information and referrals to workplace support services.
Employment helps people maintain motivation, a sense of purpose, self-identity, and financial security. Gaining meaningful employment is one of the primary reasons people attend addiction recovery treatment programs. Clients benefit from developing essential social, coping, and communication skills during treatment. Many people use the skills and tools they gain in therapy to improve their overall health and establish positive routines for creating a good work-life balance. Individuals gain confidence and self-esteem by building a healthy foundation for long-term recovery in treatment and in the real world. Many people find it easier to gain meaningful employment when they begin to make positive lifestyle changes. To learn more about the programs at West Coast Recovery Centers, call us today at (760) 492-6509.