How to Get Back to Work After Addiction

Reentering the workforce after an absence due to an alcohol or drug addiction problem can present individuals in recovery with some challenges.  

How to Be Successful at Work After Rehab 

The most critical aspect of successfully reentering the workplace is a realistic, well-designed, and sustainable plan to cope with the triggers that would have previously led the person to drinking or using.   

After completing a rehab programme, every patient receives an individualised discharge plan that is designed to help them successfully navigate the challenges of going back to work.  

discharge plan – also known as a continuing care plan – is a “living” document, meaning that it is continuingly subject to review and update to best reflect the individual’s changing needs.  

For example, a continuing care plan identifies certain people as first-line-of support for various circumstances, but as time goes on, there may be other people better suited (due to proximity or availability) to assist in those capacities, and the continuing care plan should adapt to these resources so as to provide the maximum possible recovery support to the individual.  

Discharge plans are designed through a collaborative effort by the patient, their family or close support network and the various medical professionals and therapists involved in their rehab treatment programme, who will advise about additional community resources that the patient should access after they complete treatment. 

Coping with Workplace Stress After Rehab 

An effective continuing care plan will synthesize how, when, and where the individual will use various recovery skills and resources in order to maintain sobriety. This may include highly specific directives. An example might be: 

“In the event that I feel frustrated at my new job, I will first use my cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) skills to identify unhelpful thinking patterns that are making this situation seem worse than it is. I will try utilizing my CBT skills for at least five minutes. If I still feel upset or overwhelmed, I will call my mom or my brother for support, because they are both usually available during the day by cell phone. If I still feel upset or even triggered to use, I will call my AA Sponsor.” 

Family and friends, and even treatment team members, may have strong feelings about what they think the patient should do in a given situation, but if the individual does not agree to those ideas, it is important that a consensus is reached through collaborative, constructive, and positive dialogue.