Recovery is a time of intense change and growth, as sobriety is not something that just happens overnight. At times, all you can do is take life day by day (sometimes hour by hour), but you do, eventually, reach the point where you are ready to ascend to the next level.

You’re at the gate of that next level, now — you’re ready for a job.

It can be easy to get lost in the nerves and stressors of refamiliarizing yourself with the etiquette and culture of the “work world,” but with the proper guidance, you’ll be in a rhythm in no time.

We’re going to share with you some of our best tips and practices for returning to work after completing (or while actively in) recovery from addiction.

Answer these two questions first

Before we give you our five best tips for transitioning back to the workforce, there are two questions you need to have answers so you can find the best job for you right now.

Are you looking for part-time or full-time? Neither answer is wrong. Some people, as they adjust to their new sober lifestyle, realize they’re not quite ready to jump into work full-time. Others find that a full-time job is the exact structure they need to help maintain their sobriety.

Are you finding a job, or changing careers? This answer will vary depending on your age, what kind of work you did prior to addiction (if you worked long-term), and what you’re wanting at this point in your life. You might be looking for a job simply to help you acclimate back to the workforce, or you may be looking to restart a previous career, or even start a brand new one.

Returning to work

Now that you know the answers to these two questions and know what kind of job or career you’re looking for, you can begin preparing yourself to transition back to the workplace.

5. Prepare yourself mentally

You’re going to have hurdles to overcome in this phase of recovery. Stereotypes around addiction might cause you to receive the brunt of those stigmas, and this might be whispers and looks, gossip or being treated differently. It might be difficult to find a job, and that’s okay.

You are not the first person to re-enter the workforce after rehab, and you won’t be the last. If countless people have done it before you, you can do it too. Brace yourself for the obstacles, find a way to overcome them, and keep moving forwards.

4. Embrace low-stress jobs

High levels of stress are normalized in American work culture, and so the majority of people internalize and ignore this stress, regardless of the consequences it can wreak on their lives.

As you return back to the workforce, you might feel pressured to take any and every job offered to you or that you don’t have a right to say no, but that isn’t the case. While you want to remain open to new opportunities, it’s also important to be aware of what is and isn’t best for you. This is your second chance to build the life you want. You choose what kind of job you work.

3. Release peoples’ expectations and judgments

After recovery, people might try and place you in a category in attempt to comprehend what is unfamiliar to them.

Either one, they see you as “cured,” and might act as if the addiction never happened; they don’t know recovery is more than completing a program, and that sobriety is an ongoing commitment. Or they might see you through the “once an addict, always an addict” lens, which is a result of the older societal view that addiction was a character flaw, and not a disease.

You are not responsible for other peoples’ perception of you; you cannot control what they think, and you cannot make them like you if they don’t. Rather than trying to figure out how you can convince someone you are “this” and not “that,” represent the truth through your actions.

Be honest. Work hard. Work smart. Follow through. Support your team. Be kind. Stay sober.

2. Be patient with yourself

We are our own harshest critics; we rarely do “good enough” in our own eyes. While an honest self-assessment of our choices, our character, our life, can be highly beneficial in helping us become the best version of ourselves, it can also be detrimental to our progress.

Be patient and gentle with yourself through this transition. Give yourself permission to not have it all figured out, and remember to take care of yourself (especially during the low moments). 

1. Contact us for any assistance you might need

Transitioning back into the workforce after completing (or while actively in) recovery from addiction is not easy, and it’s not one we expect you to go through alone.

At Real Recovery Sober Living, we offer extended care recovery programs, forward-focused sober living programs, and an environment based around safety, support, and community.

Any questions you might have, we’re here to answer. Call us anytime.