One of the most difficult steps in recovery is the transition from inpatient treatment back into society. Even with continuing care through intensive outpatient or outpatient care, many people find that this stage is a struggle.

While there are numerous reasons for the trials and tribulations of recovery, the challenge of this adjustment can often be traced back to a lifestyle that is incompatible with recovery. Returning to old habits, old friend groups, old environments and your old job can invite temptations to relapse.

Remaking your life to make sobriety sustainable is the key to making the best of the progression from residential treatment to more independent living. In this article, we’ll explain the role employment plays in this transition period, and why it’s essential to long-term recovery.

The importance of working in recovery

Your primary goal in recovery is to maintain complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol. While that should remain your main focus, it’s important to set secondary goals that support a sober lifestyle. For example, you may find that a goal to find new housing arrangements enables you to steer clear of roommates who use or a neighborhood that is ridden with substance abuse.

Similarly, establishing a goal to find and maintain stable employment can make your life more stable and enjoyable, and at the end of the day can make your journey of recovery much easier. A goal of working in recovery has numerous benefits, and breaking down this goal into smaller steps can make returning to work more feasible, too.

Benefits of working in recovery

Employment has numerous benefits to improving your quality of life in general and has specific benefits for those in active recovery. Here’s why you should add a goal of working in recovery to your treatment plan.

Decreases triggers

For many people in recovery, boredom invites opportunities for relapse. The sheer amount of time you’ll have to face when you aren’t working will feel like an open invitation for relapse, guaranteed.

When you are gainfully employed, your job will add daily and weekly structure. Your time will be used productively and the time you have off will be oriented towards other important tasks like grocery shopping or family time. You’ll find with less free time that you’re much less inclined to see boredom or isolation as an opportunity to seek out drugs or alcohol.

Improves self-perception

A hallmark of individuals in recovery is low-self esteem. A poor opinion of oneself can lead to insecurity and a defeated mindset. Feeling down about yourself is only exacerbated by a lack of employment, or working a job that is unsatisfying.

Pursuing a career you can be proud of can reverse the negative self-worth that many individuals who struggle with addiction feel. When you have a job that is meaningful to you and provides for your basic needs, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment which can motivate your continued sobriety.

Improves finances

Perhaps the most obvious reason for working in recovery is the financial opportunities it provides. A consistent income provides you and your family with stability. Predictability and security in a job can also decrease anxiety and urges to use substances. Moreover, the financial stress of the past can be undone when you’re not spending money on substances and saving towards things that matter, like retirement or your child’s education.

Tips for returning to work

Finding the right job or a meaningful career right off the bat isn’t a walk in the park. Even with a perfect head start, many people struggle to find a career they’re happy in for the rest of their lives. Finding a job that is enjoyable, pays well and offers ideal flexibility takes time. Here are a few tips to help you in the process of returning to work.

Set small goals

Your return to work will take time and you may find yourself dissatisfied at first. In order to keep up your momentum towards long-term success in sobriety and life, setting small goals can help you get there. Here are some ideas of objectives to keep you going.

  • Write a resume
  • Attend a job training seminar
  • Practice interviewing
  • Make a list of qualifications, work experience and skills you have
  • Make a list of possible careers that would interest you and fit your qualifications
  • Search online for jobs and find three a week that interest you
  • Aim to apply for at least one job per week
  • Aim to interview for at least two jobs per month
  • Accept a job offer within two months
  • Continue to update your resume
  • Seek out further education, certifications or training in your field
  • Find a mentor in your field

It’s a big, long-term goal to find stable and meaningful employment. Setting smaller goals along the way can help you find success quickly and motivation towards further change.

Take advantage of the services available to you

When you partake in professional treatment for substance use recovery, there are numerous services available to help you return to work. In fact, some type of formal goal regarding employment may even be incorporated into your treatment plan.

You may have a case worker or social worker who assists you in setting and achieving similar objectives to the ones listed above, and some career assistance training (such as resume writing or interview practice) may be part of an extended inpatient or outpatient program.

Getting the support you need

A commitment to sobriety requires a commitment to a lifestyle that supports recovery. Whether you’re looking for help finding stable employment during outpatient treatment or struggling to manage stress and triggers at work, Real Recovery can off you the support you’re looking for.

Real Recovery can help you address addiction and mental health issues through professional treatment. Take the first step towards life-long freedom and call Real Recovery today. Find the help you need every step of the way.