It can be intimidating after a residential or outpatient stay in recovery to head back to work or to begin a job search. Feelings of apprehension, stress, and self-doubt are normal when transitioning back to a full-time work week while managing sobriety.
The good news: it’s possible to achieve a satisfying and balanced occupational experience post-recovery, and St. Gregory Recovery Center in Iowa knows exactly how to make that possibility a reality.
Our center invests time and care into offering our residents life-skills training and emotional management techniques throughout and beyond their stay. Part of this investment involves preparing our residents for the workforce. We encourage our graduates to enroll in additional support groups that provide an even larger array of professional tools and confidence boosters.
In particular, we advocate participation in the SMART Recovery program. According to its founder and executive director, Shari Allwood, SMART signifies two things: self-management and recovery training. Together, these two skills will create a successful, financially independent recovery. In an interview with In-Sight Publishing, Allwood broke down the six principles that make SMART Recovery work for its users:
- Managing relapse urges – Support meetings help individuals learn to recognize relapse triggers and the methods they can put into place to catch themselves before they fall.
- Changing behaviors from the inside-out – Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a wonderful tool that teaches people how to identify beliefs and thoughts that lead to relapse, and the ways that they can be combated.
- Work-life balance – SMART meetings show people how they can create new, healthy lifestyles that replace old lifestyles based in substance abuse and dependence.
- Mutual support – Struggle and success are most valuable when shared with others. The communal, interactive nature of the meetings reflects this. This mutual support breeds independence and positivity—often the meeting’s facilitator doesn’t need to speak at all. The members keep meetings engaging, entertaining, and helpful.
- Empowerment – The program shows people that they are in control of their vices, their lives, and their financial future. This is an extremely empowering mindset that can help when heading back to work.
- Self-motivation – The program advocates a process called Motivational Interviewing, a scientifically backed approach that mirrors many of CBT’s philosophies, including discarding outdated, unhelpful, and negative thought patterns.
This program not only gives individuals the chance to develop personally and professionally, but socially as well. Members share tools, stories, tips, and encouragement during the hour and a half that each meeting lasts. With endless networking opportunities and the ability to unwind in a safe space, SMART further reinforces that everyone has choices and the freedom to discern between them in their recovery and at their jobs.
Concluding Tips for Supporting Yourself at Your Job After Recovery
- Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work
A high-paying, high-stress job isn’t everyone’s ideal situation. Whether you are making six figures or living modestly and comfortably, make sure to create plans and hobbies outside of work. Avoid placing all of the eggs in one basket.
- Inform Yourself of Your Labor Rights
Talking to a sponsor or a healthcare professional at St. Gregory’s about challenges you may face in returning to work is also helpful. Getting counsel and doing a little research on federal worker laws, as well as how HR and company recruiters go about interviewing and hiring employees goes a long way when encountering occupation hurdles that may pop up post-treatment.
- People Need Purpose
While it’s always recommended to seek jobs and career paths that feel meaningful, this doesn’t mean you have to find work as a humanitarian or Nobel prize-winning author. Purpose and meaning are created by maintaining a healthy routine. Keep it simple, don’t stress, and stay positive.