Alcoholism can be a devastating disease, damaging the lives of alcoholics and the people who love them. Alcohol addiction can lead to broken relationships, divorce, and separation of children from their parents. It can destroy user’s financial lives through poor monetary decisions and lost jobs or wages. While these consequences are daunting, treatment for workaholics can save the life of the alcoholic and, in doing so, dramatically improve the life of his or her family and loved ones. While treatment for alcoholics is no easy feat, it is just the beginning, not the end, of recovery. Upon completion of a treatment program, the alcoholic in recovery must re-enter his old life and learn how to navigate its challenges as a sober adult.
Alcoholics in the Workforce
Legally, employers have the right to fire employees for subpar performance, whether it is due to substance abuse problems or any other reasons. However, many employers want to help employees struggling with addiction. Many employers will hold an employee’s job for the duration of rehab or allow the individual to attend rehab with an understanding that they will have a job if they are able to successfully complete treatment and maintain a sober lifestyle. Larger companies may have specific policies set up to deal with employees who struggle with substance abuse.
Returning to the Workforce
Coming back to work after rehab comes with its own set of challenges. Depending on the individual’s behavior before rehab, coworkers may gossip about the reasons behind the leave-of-absence and may be nosy. It is important to remember that, by law, the reasons for departure and return are confidential, and the employee has a right to privacy. If the alcoholic in recovery wishes to share his story, that is his decision.
In terms of job expectations, the U.S. Department of Labor suggests creating a return-to-work agreement before the employee comes back. It should outline the employer’s expectations for the returning employee, including zero-tolerance for substance abuse, with the stipulation that breaking the agreement is grounds for termination. Another challenge in returning to work after rehab is learning to deal with the stress without the release of alcohol abuse. The recovering alcoholic will need to utilize new strategies, such as mindfulness exercises, yoga, breathing, or other physical activities to reduce stress.
Reducing Stress To Avoid Relapse
While returning to work can be challenging, it also offers some benefits to the recovering alcoholic. The workplace is a structured environment that provides opportunities for creative thinking, problem, solving, and socialization. It gives the individual a purpose and an identity. But for recovering addicts, there is always the risk of replacing one addiction for another, and one risk for a recovering alcoholic is becoming a work addict.
Recovering alcoholics fresh out of treatment may throw themselves back into work and quickly develop the hallmarks of addiction, such missing out on social obligations to work, thinking about and craving work at inappropriate times, and allowing work to negatively impact personal lives and relationships. Working too much may lead to burnout or create too much work-related stress, which can trigger a relapse of alcohol use.
When returning to work, alcoholics in recovery be mindful that becoming a workaholic is a possibility and be on the lookout for changes in work habits, such as skipping important events or losing interest in previously enjoyable activities. Recovering alcoholics should gradually increase work responsibilities instead of jumping right back in and resist the urge to prove themselves to coworkers and employers. Work addiction treatment is available if needed. Call our toll-free number today for help with any type of addiction.