Recovery in the Workplace: How to Stay Healthy During The Recovery Process

By Corinne Keating 09/07/17

Here are a few tips on how to stay focused and avoid triggering situations when returning to the workplace during the recovery process.

Man in modern office start-up working on laptop.

Returning to work is a big step after recovering from addiction. A lapse in normalcy can make routine and responsibility seem challenging, but the trick is to look at them as steps toward recovery. Routine makes life more predictable, comforting peaceful. Knowing what you’ll have going on each day can be a soothing thought, and you know you can count on some time each day to relax and recover after your work hours are over. 

New, or the resuming of old responsibilities, can be scary especially amidst the challenge of overcoming addiction. But, success will improve your self-esteem and encourage you to take more steps toward recovery. 

There are a few practical things you can do to help maintain your composure and focus in the workplace. Keep these in mind as you return to work after recovering from addiction. 

Avoid Triggering Situations 

Everyone has “triggers” that make a certain behavior more likely. Alcoholics Anonymous came up with an acronym to avoid hazardous situations—H.A.L.T. The “H” stands for hungry, the “A” for angry, the “L” for lonely and the "T" for tired. Hunger, anger, loneliness and hunger are common triggers for recovering addicts, and you may have a few unique ones of your own. For many, there are certain thoughts that spur a physiological reaction in their body, and make it harder to refuse addictive substances or behaviors. 

“Know thy self” is a common adage, and couldn’t be more helpful in this case! The key is to understand the things that make it harder for you to resist addictive behavior in the first place, so you can avoid them and reduce the risk of compromising your work. 

While employers aren’t allowed to fire you for being in recovery from addiction, they can ask you to seek other employment if your performance declines. It will be important to stay focused and on task as you return to work, and the best way to do that is having a game plan. 

Have An Escape Route 

Even despite our best efforts, sometimes falling into a hazardous situation is unavoidable or happens unexpectedly. Before you get there, it is important to design an escape plan so you can get out without experiencing a set-back and falling back into old habits. 

There are several things you can do instead of feeding your addiction. Come up with something to do to take your mind off of the behavior you’re trying to avoid. For example, meditating, journaling or doodling, listening to music or even playing a game are all things you can indulge in for a few minutes on a bathroom break or during your lunch hour at work. 

Outside of work, things like sleeping, blogging, hiking, cooking or reading are all good alternative activities. Challenge yourself to pick up an old hobby to fill the time you have now with the absence of your addiction. Think of the exciting thing you’re doing in place of your addiction at work. 

Try one of these psychology tricks to redirect your thoughts if nothing else works! 

Take Care Of Your Physical Health 

Maintaining healthy habits will help you avoid unhealthy ones. More often than not, it is poor physical health that causes addiction in the first place. It is so important to take care of your body during your recovery process. Your physical health will directly impact your work performance, including your endurance, ability to concentrate and muscle strength. 

Eating healthy foods at home and during your work day, drinking lots of water, and getting good sleep are all essentials. Prepare for your hunger at work by packing high protein snacks for on-the-go, and a balanced meal for your lunch hour. Making and bringing your lunches from home will help you avoid the temptation of getting fast food or relying on pre-packaged snacks. 

Treat yourself to a nice, big water bottle and challenge yourself to drink it all throughout the day. Maintain a set bedtime and morning alarm to regulate your circadian rhythm. 

Working your cardiovascular system and your muscles is important for a healthy body as well. Try some of these exercises to do at work to keep your blood pumping throughout the day. 

Maintain Your Mental Health 

In addition to taking care of your body, be a friend to your mind and heart. Your emotions will likely be all over the place, seeing old faces and fearful of the judgment of others. 

First and foremost, you must understand that the negative judgments of others are false judgments based on partial information. Nobody knows you but you, and you are stronger than you think! 

Attend support groups and connect with family and good friends. Rely on the strength of others and find joy in the sense of community it will give you. Don’t be afraid to be honest with co-workers, and focus on developing confidence and good self-esteem. The faith you have in yourself will help you perform the best at work. 

Remember that your addiction does not define you. Take pride in your career and relish the routine and satisfaction that work can bring in your time of recovery! 

Corinne Keating writes on physical and mental health. When she isn’t doing freelance work or writing for her blog (Why So Well) she enjoys running, coffee, and traveling.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Corinne Keating.JPG

Corinne Keating writes on physical and mental health. When she isn’t doing freelance work or writing for her blog, Why So Well she enjoys running, coffee, and traveling.