The first step on the path to sobriety is, for most people, attending a drug addiction treatment facility and then later a sober living home. In both of those environments you have a strong community of individuals supporting your sobriety. And during this time, tending to your sobriety is likely the only thing on your mind. You’re likely working hard on making the choice each day to stay sober.
However, at some point, you begin to realize that your entire life doesn’t need to stay focused on staying sober; you can begin to give your energy to other areas of your life. Now that you’ve got the basics down – staying sober and staying healthy – you might be ready to look for work, begin an intimate relationship, or go back to school.
In fact, during your drug addiction treatment experience, you might have also treated the deeply embedded habits, thoughts, and beliefs that long held you in your addiction. But now that you’ve transformed those too, you might be ready to take steps in your life you’ve never taken before.
Returning To Work
One of these steps might be returning to work. Often part of the downward spiral of addiction is the loss of a job or the inability to work due to physical, emotional, and psychological impairments. It can be an exciting opportunity to return to the workplace.
This can be rewarding in many ways, including the chance for you to review your particular skills and the opportunity to feel a part of a community. Although some mental health practitioners, or your drug counselor, might indicate that work can add stress to your life, sometimes the opposite is true. Work can also be fulfilling, meaningful, and even healing.
The National Association of State Mental Health Directors once made a list of the reasons why one should return to work. Of course, when the time is right for someone who is in recovery.
- Working is healing
- Working focuses on our abilities, not our limitations.
- Working improves our self-concept by overcoming the feeling we are unworthy or useless.
- Working moves us into challenging relationships with other that help us grow.
- Working moves us toward self-actualization, meaning that it can add to a process of becoming the best we can be.
Starting A New Life
If you’ve been through drug treatment and you’re ready to create a new life for yourself, perhaps you’re ready to return to work. Of course, returning to work can be an important part of your recovery. However, it needs to be the right time and under the right circumstances. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether going back to work is the right decision for you:
- Am I motivated to work?
- What is the source of my motivation to return to work?
- Do I want to return to work because of an inner desire or am I being encouraged or pressured by someone else?
- Can you see yourself working? If so, what does that look like?
- If you want to work but can’t clearly see yourself working, what are some of the obstacles that might be standing in your way?
Sometimes, along with employment, the loss of a home was also a part of the damaging ride of addiction. It might have meant the loss of a marriage or the inability to pay the mortgage. Whatever the case, you might need to find a place to live, especially after residing at a drug treatment facility. And this might also be a reason why you want to return to work.
In addition to finding work and settling down in a new place to live, part of creating a new life for yourself is healing past relationships. Although the primary relationship to focus on during recovery is with yourself, other relationships with friends and family are part of this process.
Finding a new place to live, returning to work, and mending fences can be significant ways to create a new life for yourself after drug addiction treatment.
P. Ridgway, D. McDiarmid, L. Davidson, J. Bayes, S. Ratzlaff (2002). Pathways to Recovery: A Strengths Recovery Self-Help Workbook. University of Kansas School of Welfare. Topeka, KS.
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