How to Deal With Recovery In the Workplace

The process of recovery is not an easy one and it can take a long time to fully recover from a past addiction. Addiction is a disease that can take complete control of your life, manipulating your mind, body, and soul and changing you into something you previously weren’t. Though addiction is hard to beat, it is not entirely impossible to fully recover from it. Some people are able to take long periods of time to focus on their recovery and seclude themselves away from any possibly triggering environments. However, for most young or already established adults, taking that much time away from their jobs may not be possible. Some businesses may be slightly more flexible when it comes to employees taking time off to go through recovery, but some may not. In a scenario like this, the person will need to learn how to deal with recovery while still being present in the workplace. How can this be done? Let’s discuss it!

Recovery At Work

While going through recovery, you may feel like shutting yourself away and not dealing with any other obligations. As we mentioned previously, that can’t always be done. In this case, we’re talking about people who still have to go to their 9-to-5 jobs while they are inactive recovery. Recovery at your job can be a difficult thing to deal with, especially in the first initial stages of recovery. During the first days of recovery, former addicts will experience something called withdrawal. Symptoms can vary depending on what substance the user abused and for how long. Some common symptoms you’ll often see in someone experiencing withdrawal are:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, restlessness, irritability
  • Social isolation, lack of enjoyment, fatigue, poor appetite
  • Insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Poor concentration, poor memory
  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Chest tightness, difficulty breathing
  • Racing heart, skipped beats, palpitations
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach aches
  • Muscle tension, twitches, tremors, shakes, muscle aches
  • Sweating, tingling

As you can probably already tell from this list, experiencing these symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. Working a job already requires a lot of your mental and physical strength, tacking these symptoms on to the normal workflow can easily become a recipe for disaster. Withdrawal and the cravings that come along with it are easily the hardest things to deal with in recovery, especially if you are trying to live your normal work life. So how does one prepare for recovery in the workplace?

Step #1: Be Transparent

One of the best things for any person in recovery to do is just be transparent. It may be difficult and maybe even inappropriate to tell co-workers of the struggles you’re going through, but letting your boss/employer know ahead of time about what you’re going through can benefit your recovery. If you do not inform your employer of your current/past situations with addiction, they’ll have a harder time understanding what you’re going through. If they see that you are irritable, emotional, and feeling sick, they may ask you to leave or even administer a write-up if you are clearly not present at work. Any sort of quarrel like this at work not only could result in poor outlooks on someone’s work ethic, but it could also cause them to relapse if they are feeling stressed out. Being completely transparent with your employer about your struggles can help deal with recovery in the workplace. 

Step #2: Master Your Coping Mechanisms

As we’ve mentioned, recovery in the workplace is extremely difficult due to cravings and withdrawal. Withdrawal can be a physically and mentally taxing thing to deal with, that’s why mastering your coping mechanisms is essential. Coping mechanisms help a person deal with triggers that can be found in whatever environment they’re in. For example, let’s say a person used to drink on the job if they got stressed; if they get stressed during recovery, this may be a trigger for them to drink again. Finding coping mechanisms to fight against this sort of thing is vital for any recovering addict, in or out of the workplace. Triggers can be found all over and sometimes they can be as simple as a spoken word. Recovering addicts are extremely sensitive individuals because their minds and bodies have been manipulated through their active substance abuse. If a former addict is triggered into relapse, they may relapse hard and their old habits may even carry over to their professional life. Showing up late for work, showing up to work high/drunk, not caring as much about job performance, etc. are all likely signs that someone has relapsed. If you are looking to further your professional career, the last thing you need is a relapse that causes you to lose your job. 

Step #3: Stay Motivated

We cannot emphasize this final step enough: Stay motivated! It is so important to continually reflect on why you started the recovery process. Chances are, your life was headed in a direction you didn’t like or someone else didn’t like, don’t forget that! During recovery, a person will experience ups and downs, but continually reminding oneself of why you started to live a sober life can help the process flow a bit more smoothly. When you start to have intense cravings to use again, just remind yourself that your old life is not the life you want to continue living. Stay motivated, stay sober, and stay in recovery!

Though recovery can be a difficult thing to deal with, especially if you are actively working, it is not impossible. Keep in mind that dealing with recovery in the workplace is only possible if you follow these three steps: be transparent, master your coping mechanisms, and stay motivated. If you are able to follow these steps, you could be that much closer to living a successful sober life in the workplace.