How to Handle Employment in Early Sobriety

A drug-free life

One of the biggest steps to putting your addiction behind you and returning to a “normal” life is going back to work.

Starting to work after treatment is a great way to create structure in your new life, and this is vital to maintaining long-term sobriety. It’s important to be especially careful in your first year of sobriety and be mindful of your work environment to ensure you’re not slipping back into old habits.

Jobs and Careers to Avoid

When first venturing into employment after getting sober, it’s important to keep the general environment of the industry in mind. You’ll want to avoid high-stress jobs at first, as well as particular industries where it’s common for employees to drink after work or use drugs to enhance performance.

Avoiding these things will make your journey through recovery that much smoother and reduce your risk of relapsing.

The top industries to avoid include:

  • Accommodation and food service
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation
  • Construction
  • Management

If you are already employed in one of these industries, you don’t necessarily have to quit your job – but you may want to consider it if you’re being proactive. If you know your coworkers often drink or use drugs, or you remember being constantly stressed at work, perhaps it’s best to look for another line of work.

You can always find another job, but you don’t want to lose all the progress you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Finding the Right Job

There are a lot of factors to consider when searching for employment in early sobriety. You’ll want to be careful not to take on more than you can handle, but you’ll also want to make sure that you’re working in a good environment with positive people.

Be honest with yourself when figuring out what you can and can’t handle. Talk to your mentor and plan to err on the side of caution. Perhaps you start with a low-stress, part-time job working one or two days per week. You can always start with less and gradually take on more.

Some people will advise you to take whatever job you can get, while others will advise that you hold out for a “safe” environment. Employment in early sobriety looks different for everyone, and there’s only one one-size-fits-all guideline: make sure your recovery comes first. Don’t skip your 12-step meetings or appointments with your therapist to work more shifts.

Be grateful for your employment, and use it as an opportunity to practice building good habits for the rest of your life.

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