The hardest step of addiction recovery is admitting that there is a problem, but what is a person to do after the mentorship and group meetings have stopped? Life begins after rehabilitation. Living in the real world is a much harder transition than most are equipped to handle.
The important aspect of successful recovery is what the addict does after treatment. Returning to work and balancing the internal with the external takes practice. Take a look at this short overview of a few helpful hints to living sober on the outside.
Return to work agreement
It may seem like shooting oneself in their own foot, but drawing up a return to work agreement (or RTWA) with an employer is an excellent source of accountability. The agreement should outline company expectations and a strict drug-free policy.
If anything seems to be awry with returning employees, an RTWA gives companies the right to drug test that employee at any time. Most workplaces already have a drug-free work policy anyway, so an RTWA is not really much different.
Avoid becoming a workaholic
Be careful not to throw too much effort into working for a while after rehab. Overdoing anything is not healthy. Addicts tend to get “addicted” to things that make them feel good, and working is exceptionally stimulating and rewarding for most successful employees.
Work it out in the RTWA before returning to work that there will be no 60 hour work weeks. It is understandable that this is not a feasible possibility for everyone, but it helps to understand at least the pitfalls of returning to a job after treatment.
Allow routine to be a guide
Working provides intellectual stimulation and keeps the recovering addict busy. Regular working schedules are often ideal for keeping a user on track with their recovery.
Do not forget the lessons learned in treatment concerning routine. Stick to the basics of survival for a while, until a strong sense of control develops. Simply put, keep doing those annoying daily rituals taught in treatment until it is safe to stray from the path.
Stick to effective coping mechanisms
Once treatment is completed, most recovering addicts have a good sense of the difference between healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms. The key is to continue employing those helpful habits.
Falling back into former habits is easier than easy. Be aware of personal triggers and stressors. Prepare to handle them with patience and a clear mindset. Eventually, these conscious decisions will begin to feel more natural.
Retain connections with sober supporters
An addict’s support system is critical to their success. There are exceptions to the rule, but most addicts do not succeed without a solid group of sober supporters. Stay in contact with these people even after returning to the workplace. Do not allow business to sever healthy and constructive relationships.