3 Tips for Returning to Work After Rehab

2 min read · 4 sections

Completing an addiction treatment program is a great accomplishment and something that you can feel proud of. At the same time, you are probably a bit apprehensive thinking about returning to work, especially if you’re coming back to the same job. You may have many concerns about what to expect. Or you may be worried about how to talk to your boss and coworkers. This is a big step, but it’s one that you can take one day at a time. With a plan in place, you can successfully transition back into the workplace with your head held high. Here are 3 tips for returning to work after rehab.

1. Create a Plan/Goals

man returning to work after rehab
You may be eager to jump right back into your job; however, it’s best to ease back in by having a plan in place before doing so. Your plan could be as detailed or as minimal as you like, and you can work on it by yourself, with a trusted loved one, or with your therapist. Your plan will be customized to fit your unique situation, but will probably address things like:

  • What to do if coworkers ask about your recovery, provided they know.
  • If coworkers don’t know why you were gone, how will you handle explaining your extended absence? People generally will ask questions.
  • How will you handle triggering or unexpected situations? (more on avoiding triggers below)

If you know what you will do or how you will handle an issue in advance, then you won’t be caught off guard, which gives you a greater sense of control.

Remember, when creating your plan, write it down and be specific. Neuropsychologists’ research shows that this practice will make you more likely to achieve your goals.

2. Develop New Routines

As you go back to work, it may seem strange at first because you’ve been used to being in rehab where everything was scheduled for you—your day was regimented. Now, it may seem like your whole day is a big open space. You don’t have to let it be that way. Fill that space by developing a new routine. You’ll already have your work schedule routine in place, so you’re only dealing with the time before/after work and the days you don’t work. It’s helpful to have “something” to go into those time slots for now so that you’re not idle and tempted to use substances again. Your morning routine could consist of things like:

  • Eating a healthy breakfast.
  • Taking some time for meditation, prayer, reading, or gentle stretching.
  • Spending time bonding with loved ones or pets that you reside with or calling someone special for a morning greeting.
  • Getting a coffee on the way to work.

On the weekends, your routine will probably look different, but you can fill it with things that will make you feel happy, loved, and supported. Before long, you will have developed a whole new way of living.

3. Avoid Triggers

During therapy, you probably learned about triggers. Triggers are things, events, or emotions that trigger a strong desire to use a substance. You may have even explored what particular things are triggers for you. If not, an aftercare rehab program will help you address these issues. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective treatment in combatting triggers and relapses. However, until you get to the point where you feel comfortable in the presence of a triggering event or emotion, it is best to try to avoid them. Some common triggers include:woman on phone with bike returning to work after rehab

  • Too much stress.
  • Not enough sleep.
  • Isolation.
  • Being around others who are using substances recreationally.

These are just a few, but you will have your own triggers unique to you.

Next Steps

If you are heading back to work after rehab, reach out to American Addiction Centers for the added support you need. Our compassionate recovery staff is here to walk with you every step of the journey.

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