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If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

After completing a treatment program, there are many different life transitions we face while in recovery. One of the most pivotal of these transitions is returning back to our jobs and/or schools. We might have taken time off from work or classes to attend a treatment program. We might have been fired from our jobs or forced to take a leave of absence. Our schools may have mandated a treatment program as part of our remediation plan. Whatever the reason, taking time away from our regular schedules and routines can be difficult. We can find it to be destabilizing and confusing. Many of us find comfort in our familiar routines, and being away from them can be a source of stress for us. When we undergo yet another transition of returning back to those routines, we can find it to be an overwhelming challenge for us.

Recognizing Our Life Changes in Recovery

Many of us find that we’re no longer the same person we were before we left for treatment. We’ve made considerable changes, not only to our routines but to our entire perspectives and ways of living. We see the world differently. We see ourselves differently. We’ve learned new coping skills that we practice regularly in order to help ourselves stay sober and healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically. We’re beginning to learn the importance of a regular self-care regimen. We might be making more time for our spiritual practice. We’re determining which relationships are healthy for us and support our sobriety, and which we have to distance ourselves from. All of these things can make the transition back to work or school especially difficult for us. How do we make time for all of our recovery work while dealing with the demands of work and school? How do we remain committed to our wellness and self-care? How do we interact with our co-workers and friends now that we’re sober? How do we separate ourselves from the people who are still actively using, when we’re trying so hard to stay sober? How do we stay away from the things at work and school that we find triggering, stressful or upsetting for us?

Checking in With Ourselves Regularly

One thing we’re beginning to develop while in treatment is a closer relationship with ourselves. We’re learning the importance of being honest and transparent with ourselves. When we go back to work or school after finishing a treatment program, we’ll want to put this new, more open relationship with ourselves into practice. We’ll want to check in with ourselves regularly. Is this a safe space for me? Are my co-workers and peers supportive of me and my recovery? Am I being bullied or made to feel unsafe in any way? Do I think this is the best place for me to continue my recovery work, or should I consider relocating? Many of us don’t want to have to make yet another transition, that of looking for another job to work at or school to attend. Some of us don’t have a choice because we’ve been suspended or terminated. Returning back to our former workplaces and classes forces us to call into question how well we’re adjusting to our daily lives, and whether we need to make some further changes to help ourselves stay well. It’s in our best interest to look for the best possible situation for ourselves, even if that means we have to transition yet again.

Seeking Out Support

Most schools and workplaces have support staff in the form of counselors, therapists and coaches, people we can talk to if we’re feeling overly stressed, if we’re feeling depressed or struggling with substance abuse, even if we’re struggling with acute mental health issues such as panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. Sometimes we’re afraid to seek out these resources, but it can help us tremendously in our careers and in our own personal well-being to take advantage of these particular sources of support. They are trained to handle the exact issues we’re currently facing, and if we can open ourselves to receiving their help and guidance, we might find that the transition back to our workplace or school is much easier. If need be, they can help us transfer to another one that is more conducive to our sobriety.

Sober Workplaces and School Programs

Just like sober living homes, there are offices and schools committed to helping people maintain their sober lifestyles. When we attend these programs, we don’t have to sacrifice all of our hard work to get sober. We can be surrounded by like-minded people who are similarly dedicated to their sobriety. We can be fully engaged in our work and studies without also feeling tempted every day by the drugs our friends bring to school, or by the bottles of liquor our co-workers keep at their desks. So many work and school functions revolve around drugs and alcohol. For many people, parties are incomplete without them, and the idea of sober fun sounds like an oxymoron. For those of us working to stay sober, we want to immerse ourselves in environments that don’t jeopardize our sobriety. We want to establish routines and have daily life experiences that contribute to our wellness rather than detracting from it. We might find that a sober workplace or school program is the best fit for us.

The transition back to work and school asks us to take an honest inventory of our overall lifestyles so that we can make the best possible decisions for ourselves moving forward.

WinGate Wilderness Therapy offers therapeutic services for troubled teens and struggling young adults suffering from emotional and behavioral issues.

Contact us today!

(800) 560-1599
wingatewildernesstherapy.com

P.O. Box 347
Kanab, UT 84741

About the Author:
Shayne Gallagher
Shayne Gallagher

Founder/Executive Director

For more than 30 years, Shayne Gallagher has provided...

For more than 30 years, Shayne Gallagher has provided healing wilderness experiences for adolescents, young adults, and families. With...