While going away to rehab can be one of the most nerve racking experiences that a person can have, sometimes getting out of rehab can be equally as anxiety producing. For one, you are returning back to the world, a world where you used and drank in. You will no longer have the safety net of treatment to keep you sober and you have to create a support group for yourself, attend meetings, and learn to navigate the inter and intrapersonal issues that are bound to arise.
You have to begin to learn how to interact with the world from a sober stand-point and beyond the anxieties of this, there is also the prospect of having to rebuild relationships, right the wrongs that occurred during your addiction, and in most cases, a return to work after an extended absence.
Some addicts and alcoholics are lucky enough to have their jobs waiting for them when they get out of rehab and this, while a blessing to be for sure, also carries with it a certain amount of anxiety. How will you respond to people’s inquires as to where you have been? Or how will you jump back into the work day, get caught up, and handle the stress, all while completely sober?
Other individuals when getting out of rehab have different anxieties when it comes to work. They may have been out of the job market for a little while due to their addiction, or they may have entered rehab after losing their current position. For these individuals, the anxieties stemming from going back to work differ from those people who are going back to an old job, but yet the anxieties still exist. There is anxiety about if they will be able to find a new job, how they will interact with their new co-workers, and what working will be like without the aid of drugs and alcohol.
All of these things are bound to come up to one degree or another when returning to work after rehab, and so this post is designed to help you with some of these anxieties, and to help you navigate those first few days or weeks back at work.
How to Deal with the Anxiety of Returning to a Previous Job
Addiction and alcoholism are illnesses that cause the person afflicted to suffer a great deal of shame and guilt about the fact that they are sick. Most active addicts and alcoholics try to hide what they are really up to because it is not socially acceptable to be addicted and because addiction can be such an ugly thing to behold.
Due to this returning back to work after rehab can cause a tremendous amount of stress for the newly sober individual as they do not want to lose face with their co-workers or bosses, or invite unwanted inquiry.
Leading up to your first day back, do your best to take care of yourself through prayer, meditation, and taking time out of your day to try to quiet your mind. It is totally understandable that you are anxious about returning, especially if your departure to rehab was unexpected and swift, but with that said, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Literally millions of Americans suffer from addiction and unfortunately, many do not get help for their problem. You however, have embarked on a path of sobriety, which is commendable and something you should be proud of. Yes, you may have screwed things up with your drinking or using, and yes, some people may be upset with you, but this is nothing that you can’t overcome.
Initially upon your return to work, things might be uncomfortable for you, but this won’t last. If people are asking you questions that you don’t want to answer, then don’t answer them. Tell them you went on a sudden vacation or had to deal with a sick loved one, or tell them the truth—that is entirely up to you. But understand that people’s attention spans are not that long, and if you show up each day, do the best you can, and demonstrate through your actions what it means to be sober, then a lot of the anxieties you have will never materialize and within a few weeks it may be water under the bridge.
How to Deal with the Anxiety of Starting a New Job
Finding a new job in sobriety can be a frightening proposition. Some people who leave rehab, especially if they are younger, may have little to put down on a resume, and they may be in a new town or city where they don’t really know anyone. What this means is that they have to learn the lay of the land, find a place to live, all while also looking for a job that can help support them. These are three major life events and can be incredibly anxiety producing, but with help from friends and loved ones, and a program of recovery, you can make it through this anxious time without much resistance.
Once you get settled and a job is found, there are then new anxieties about what it will be like to work sober. For years, you only interacted with people when you were high or drunk and so you may be nervous about what the opposite will be like. I’m here to tell you that if this is your anxiety, let it go because many addicts and alcoholics, once sober, find that they are incredibly personable, and hard workers who move up the ranks in work rather quickly.
In fact, you may find that your first job out of rehab is an incredible experience, one that you will look back on favorably as the years go on. It may not be the best job, or even the one that you want to do for the rest of your life, but it gives you structure and a sense of purpose for the time being.
Going back to work can be really difficult after going away to rehab, but understand that after tackling addiction or alcoholism, there is little that life can throw at you that you can’t overcome. Continue to pray. Continue to talk to your support group, and continue to show up regardless of how you feel, and in the end, you will be alright.