You have completed your addiction treatment program and are ready to return to work. Even though you may be eager to start working again, you may also feel apprehensive. Keep in mind the achievements you have accomplished since your first day of addiction treatment. Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is a long process. It is a time of intense change, and returning to work is a big step. Be patient with yourself and take one day at a time.
Have a Plan for Returning to Work After Treatment
Having a plan before returning to work after treatment helps relieve anxiety and reduce stress. Your plan should fit your specific circumstances and can be as minimal or as detailed as you like. You can work on it with someone you trust, by yourself, or with your counselor or therapist.
Although your plan is unique to you, it may include things like:
- How will you explain your extended absence from work to coworkers?
- If coworkers know about your recovery, what will you say if they ask about it?
- How will you handle being in an unexpected situation that may trigger a relapse?
It Is Your Story to Tell or Not Tell
When you return to work, people will likely ask questions. Knowing what you will say or do in advance stops you from being caught off guard. The first question you may hear is, “Where have you been?” Remember that your story belongs to you. It is entirely your decision whether or not you share your recovery or any details of it with coworkers.
If you prefer to maintain your privacy, simply tell coworkers that you took some time off for health reasons. Remember that even if you shared your plans to seek addiction treatment with the human resource department or your supervisor, they are required by law to keep your information confidential.
You will most likely be dealing with four types of coworkers when you return to work. Being aware of these categories helps you put your coworkers’ behavior into perspective and know which coworkers will provide ongoing support.
- Some coworkers will be aware of the addiction and the truth about your absence. They will be open about it.
- Some coworkers will be aware of the addiction and the truth about your absence but will be uncomfortable with it and pretend not to know what’s going on.
- Some coworkers won’t know about the addiction or your absence, and they won’t ask questions.
- Some coworkers will know what you have been through because they are also in recovery or have a close relative or friend who is in recovery or still struggling with addiction.
Open Communication With Your Employer
The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that, upon returning to work after treatment, employees and employers create an accountability document called a return-to-work agreement (RTWA). An RTWA is a written agreement of the expectations an employer has for an employee who has completed treatment for a substance use disorder. It details the conditions the person must agree to before returning to work.
Having a clear line of communication with your employer is an ongoing process. It started when your addiction was identified, included your arranged treatment, and should now include a plan for reintegrating into the work team. The plan should include: clear expectations of your employment duties, your hours, and any time off you need to attend counseling sessions, treatment appointments, or support group meetings.
Help Is Available
Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone. If you or a loved one struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction, help is available. You are not alone. At Canyon Vista Recovery Center, located in Mesa, Arizona, highly skilled professionals will use a combination of psychiatric, medical, clinical, and holistic approaches to provide you with the care you need. Begin your journey on the path to recovery. Call us today.