Many people get great satisfaction from their work. They find their job meaningful, challenging, and rewarding.
Other people find their work to be nothing but a slog. They dread going to work, they are bored at work, and they complain about work to anyone who will listen.
Still others fall into a third camp of people who don’t have strong feelings about their work. They do what is expected of them and collect a paycheck, but the job doesn’t define them.
No matter which category best aligns with your personal experience, the fact is that our jobs are a huge part of our lives. We spend significant amounts of time at work, and the money we earn in exchange enables most everything that occurs outside of work. This isn’t necessarily good or bad. It’s just true.
Of course, anything that occupies such a primary place in our day to day lives is going to have an impact on a person’s efforts to maintain their sobriety. Let’s take a look at a few ways work can work against a person in recovery from a substance use disorder.
A Happy Hour Culture
Maybe you work someplace where folks enjoy getting together after work to have a drink or two (or more). It’s a tradition in many workplaces, and it can actually bring coworkers closer together to spend some down time in a social setting. But Happy Hour is not a happy place for folks in recovery. While it might be tempting to serve as the designated driver so that you can still participate in this after-work ritual, it is probably not a great idea to regularly attend gatherings that are centered on drinking.
You can, of course, opt out of these get-togethers. Alternatively, you could see if there are any other non-drinkers among your coworkers who might be up for gatherings where the focus isn’t on alcohol.
Toxic People on the Job
It is a sad fact of life that bullying and belittling others is not something everyone grows out of. If you are in a job where someone—a boss, a coworker, even someone who reports to you—is constantly criticizing you, ignoring you, talking over you, and the like, you are likely dealing with toxic individuals whose behavior can threaten your sobriety.
It is essential that you do not internalize the negativity coming from those you work with. To improve the situation, you may want to talk directly to the individual or schedule a meeting with your company’s human resources department or ombudsman to discuss your concerns. In extreme cases—especially if it is your supervisor with whom you are struggling—you may need to transfer to a different department or find a new job entirely. In the meantime, keeping some positive affirmations in mind can help you prevent a bully from putting your sobriety at risk.
Work as a Substitute Addiction
Now that you are sober, you may find yourself really wanting to make a good impression at work to demonstrate just how far you have come. Maybe you are arriving early and leaving late—and eating at your desk in between. Perhaps you have given up your weekends to put in more hours in the hopes of impressing the boss or securing the admiration of your coworkers.
The occasional late night or weekend work session is probably no big deal. But if you find yourself feeling almost compelled to be working all of the time, there is a good chance you have developed a substitute addiction. Work is now playing the role that drugs or alcohol previously played in your life, and that is not a healthy situation—especially if it leads to burnout, which can pose a real threat to your ongoing sobriety. Finding balance in your life is an important part of staying sober.
Let Us Go to Work for You
At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we take our work very seriously. We are here to help you overcome a substance use disorder through detoxification, rehabilitation, and a commitment to a continuum of care. We are ready and able to address any co-occurring mental health disorders—like depression, anxiety, or disorders grounded in trauma—that may be contributing to (or be worsened by) your substance use disorder. And all of our work is grounded in evidence-based practices, expertise informed by experience, and a culture of compassion.
If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, we are ready to get to work.