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Look Out for Addiction to Work

man on couch working

Today, work or how you make a living is one of the things American culture values. Men especially are told that they are their work, while women try to balance their ambition with their family goals. Any work problems and goals may cause self-esteem issues for people who are ambitious. Addiction to work is common among people in recovery as well as others who are not.

In recovery, there is sometimes a complicated relationship with work. If you’re still in a career you love, you may feel you have to make up for time lost to addiction. Other people in recovery choose to start new jobs or careers. Either way, there is often a feeling of “not being good enough” when a person in recovery returns to the workplace. This is one gateway to addiction to work.

Overworking or working more than forty hours a week on a regular basis can cause you problems in your recovery. You need to remember to focus on yourself and working your program.

Why Do You Need Work-Life Balance?

As a person in recovery, a work/life balance is important. Without your sobriety, you won’t be able to keep a job or excel in your career for long, anyway. In early recovery, you will still be working on personal issues and relationships.  Working too much or all the time can harm your progress immensely and keep your focus away from your recovery, which can lead to relapse.

Working an assigned set of hours and keeping to those hours only can be the solution to balance in some industries such as hospitality. However, some people who work in office settings allow themselves to be tethered to their jobs through devices, checking email on their days off or working every day of the week.

Working more than 40 hours a week is the standard because more hours are simply unhealthy for your body. Your mind and spirit also need a break to spend time nurturing your relationships, going to 12-step meetings, and getting the proper amount of sleep.

Addiction to Work is a Real Thing

Working too much can be an addiction. If you’re using work to distract yourself from your friends, family, and home life, that’s a problem. Avoiding something doesn’t make it go away, and overworking yourself can cause you a lot of stress. You may work so much you forget to eat, sleep or hydrate properly. You may find yourself canceling important events like watching your kid at a play or going to a family get together. Putting your work before your recovery can cause you problems.

All of the same behaviors – such as lying, manipulating, and avoiding life on life’s terms can start to emerge when you’re using work as an escape from life. You may make excuses to work when you don't need to. You may sacrifice relationships or responsibilities to spend more time working.

Working like this isolates you. You may forget some of your recovery basics or feel triggered to use your drug of choice because work stresses you out.

Addiction to work can be serious, but it is treatable just like any addiction. First, admit you're powerless. Ask for help from somebody you trust in recovery.

Staying Focused on Recovery

Staying focused on recovery can help you keep a healthy work-life balance. If you’re already “in too deep” you may need help moderating the amount of time you work and sticking to a structured schedule. Addiction to work can be stopped in its tracks if you commit to putting your recovery first in your life again.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you find yourself working as an escape. It’s not uncommon for people in recovery to pick up a new addiction.

Just recognize it for what it is, and reach out to your sponsor and others who can help you reclaim a balance on your work versus home life. You’re powerless over your addiction, but you’re responsible for your recovery. It’s okay to ask for help reclaiming your free time if your work life is getting out of hand.

Consider Sober Living

Many people in early recovery want a healthy transition when they’re going back to the “real world”. Sober living homes offer a place of safety and support. Sober Living San Diego offers structure, security and sobriety tools for residents making their way through their recovery journey. Learn more about what we offer at 760-216-2077.

As a person in recovery from addiction, you’ve gone through a lot of struggles just to stay sober. It’s not easy to fight against a substance use disorder. Treatment and therapy can help you cope with the transition from addiction to recovery. But what about when you have to spend most of your time in the “real world”? Will you be able to return to your career, or find work at all when you’re newly clean and sober? This can be quite a challenge for some people. But it’s a fact of life that everyone needs to have money to cover life expenses, such as shelter, food and other necessities.

Explaining Gaps in Employment

A lot of people in recovery feel they must explain gaps in employment on their resume. After all, you may have quit a job and gone on a bender, or simply remained unemployed for months or years because your addiction was in control. When addiction is control, a person may steal, show up late or not at all, or otherwise exercise poor judgement that leaves them unemployed.

A poor work history isn’t something that you can gloss over. If you want to resume a career and have a troubled work history, you may have to humble yourself with a job that pays your bills even if it isn’t your dream job.

It’s best to be honest about any mental health issues and your addiction/recovery up front. While you may feel there is stigma attached to your recovery, honesty is always best when you’re starting a new relationship with a potential employer.

If You Have a Criminal Record

Nowadays almost every employer does a background check when choosing who to hire. You should be prepared to admit this upfront and explain the ways you have made amends.

It’s true that if you have history of drug or alcohol-related offenses, you’re less likely to be offered interviews or a job. Be honest about your struggles and explain how you’re overcoming them.

Taking Different Jobs

We all live in the real world where it’s important to be realistic. If you need a job to pay the bills, then you need to humble yourself and take a job even if it’s not in your chosen field.

You can work a job while showing your dedication to the career you want. This means volunteering, getting more education, and working on getting a significant amount of sober time.

If you can’t find the job you want, or you keep getting turned down, it’s time for you to consider upgrading your skills. It’s important that you stay sober and always make that priority. If you stay sober, and continue to work, future employers will see your dedication and stability.

There are hundreds of free classes with certificates you can use to improve your resume while working a job outside of your field. Try classes from or Coursera. Most of them are free!

Of course, asking around at 12-step meetings for job leads, guidance or other help can give you a leg up when it comes to job hunting. Never be afraid to ask for help, you’ll one day be able to pay it forward.

Living Sober

Are you looking for some extra support or a way to live with your recovering peers? Consider sober homes. Living with others who have similar goals can help you stay focused and safe from triggers. Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn more about your options.

Long-term treatment takes an addicted person out of their normal environment to allow them to concentrate on themselves. When a person in recovery returns home, there is a lot of responsibility waiting for them. Bills, expenses, and debt that may have piled up during active addiction are a few things that might wait for you if you’re coming home from treatment. All of these things require you to get a job and/or resume a work life when you’re ready and able. How can you make sure that your job or career don’t overwhelm you?

Combating Stress

One of the most common themes among people in recovery who return to work is learning to cope with stress. Many workplaces, especially on the West Coast, are high-paced and come with a good amount of stress. You can manage this! Jobs are always going to have stress, so it’s up to you to learn how to cope.

Learning self-care is important in early recovery, and using to combat stress is important. This means you may need to go for a long walk during your lunch break, or head out to surf while the sun is still up and you’re done with your day. Other forms of self-care include taking a long bath, learning to meditate or practicing breathing exercises. Breathing exercises and meditation are both things you can use throughout your day. Youtube has a lot of great videos when it comes to learning these coping techniques, but you might ask a counselor or peer what works for them.

Keeping a Good Attitude

Having a good attitude is a key to success in the work world and beyond. If you’re in your feelings at work, make sure to take time out to say the serenity prayer or write a gratitude list. Think of five things you’re grateful for each day, whether you’re happy about quick commute, a good lunch, or the empathy of coworkers.

If work begins stressing you out, talk to your sponsor or share at a meeting. Plan your meetings before or after work to help you deal with the stressful times.

Getting More Support

Sober living and aftercare programs can help you transition back to everyday life, giving you the extra support you need while making decisions about your future and strengthening your recovery. Get in touch to learn more about your options by calling us at 760-216-2011.

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