Alt-tag: Photo of a man carrying a backpack and walking in Times Square as a featured image for a post about tips for a successful return to work after rehab
The return to work after rehab can be both an exciting and terrifying experience at the same time. On the one hand, you’re back to being a productive member of society, and you can provide for your family again, which will boost your confidence and make you feel better overall. On the other hand, you must now adhere to your employer’s routine expectations. Also, there’s always a fear of being discriminated against and judged by your coworkers. If you aren’t mentally and emotionally prepared for handling stress in the workplace, you significantly increase your chances of experiencing a relapse. That’s why we’ve consulted experts and prepared tips to help you make your return to work as smooth as possible.
Tips to help you have a smooth return to work after rehab
Completing rehab is a major accomplishment worthy of praise and celebration, and you should feel proud of yourself. Now that you’re done with rehab, it’s time to get back to your everyday life, and work is a significant part of it. You probably feel as excited to get back to work as you are anxious.
This is a huge step, but you can accomplish it by working on it a little bit each day. Your return to work can go with your head held high if you take the time to prepare carefully. So read our tips carefully, and by the end of this article, you’ll feel ready and confident to return to work after rehab.
Set goals and plan ahead
It’s natural to be excited to get back to work, but it’s always wise to take it slow and have a strategy in place. The level of depth in your plan is up to you; you can work on it alone, with a trusted friend or family member, or with your therapist. Not only will your plan help you adjust to working again easier, but it will also help you stay the course of sobriety.
For instance, think about how to respond if and when coworkers inquire about your health. Or, consider how you want to explain your extended absence to coworkers and how you will deal with events that may be upsetting or triggering to you.
You’ll feel more in charge of a situation if you’ve already thought through what steps to take and how to overcome potential obstacles and awkward situations. Make sure to put your idea on paper and be as detailed as possible. According to studies conducted by neuropsychologists, doing so increases the likelihood that one will accomplish their objectives.
Build a strong support system
Anxiety and stress at work, as well as concerns about money, are major reasons why so many people develop an addiction in the first place. In the thick of addiction treatment, these issues are not likely to be at the forefront of your thoughts, but when returning to your regular life, they may come crashing back into focus.
Thus, re-exposure to this stress can act as a potential relapse trigger. Therefore, having a group of people you can count on in times of need is one of the best defenses against any pressures you might be experiencing. One of the best ways to deal with anxiety and destructive impulses is to talk about them with someone you trust in a secure environment. If you have friends or family nearby willing to listen, don’t hesitate to reach out to them when feeling down.
Aftercare is an integral aspect of the treatment plan at most rehabilitation facilities. It means you can continue receiving treatment from the clinic on an outpatient basis. As part of a special support group for those in recovery from substance abuse, you can share your experiences with others. However, if you feel like this is something you don’t want to share openly, you can always schedule an individual therapy and talk with experts about it in privacy.
Do your best to avoid triggers
Substance use is triggered by specific situations, experiences, or feelings, and through your rehab, you probably figured out what your triggers are. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a proven method of preventing relapses and minimizing the effects of triggers.
However, until you reach a point where you can tolerate being around a triggering event or emotion, it is preferable to avoid them. For example, if you struggle with alcohol abuse, it’s best to skip those after-work drinks with friends and spend your time doing something else.
Create new routines
In rehab, your days were planned out for you, so going back to work can initially feel awkward. Suddenly, your day may appear to be a wide-open field. Even though it might be fun at first, it can eventually lead to boredom and potentially be a trigger for relapse, especially if you’re already struggling with anxiety. The best way to go is to develop new routines to fill the voids.
You’ll have your regular work pattern established, leaving only the time before and after work, as well as the days off, to worry about. For the time being, filling those gaps with “anything” can help you avoid boredom and the temptation to take drugs. For example, you can make an effort to meditate each morning or walk back home from work every day.
Weekends may seem different from weekdays, but you can still pack them with activities that boost your mood and help you feel loved and supported. You will soon have established a completely new, addiction-free lifestyle.
The bottom line
You’ll inevitably have to return to work after rehab at some point. It can be challenging to determine the optimal time for reintegration, but if you do not feel up to the challenge, waiting is your best option. The benefits of treatment will be nullified if you return to substance usage as soon as you return to stressful working conditions. However, if you feel it’s the right time to go back, listen to our advice and go back fully prepared.