Starting a New Job After Rehab: Is It a Smart Decision?

Starting a new job can be stressful for anyone, not just those in recent recovery: new skills, people, and routine, new demands on your time.  Yet for some, a new job is the best decision they ever made.  How do you know which is right for you?

We’ll take a look at when a new start is smart.

Reasons To Switch

While in rehab, it’s not unusual to identify key factors that contributed to your addiction, and your workplace may have been on the list.  Maybe you worked in a bar and the exposure to alcohol would be too tempting to return to. Maybe you sold drugs, and now you need to find legal work.

There are plenty of reasons why returning to your previous job may not be the best thing to do.  Here are some areas to examine:

  • Income—Are you not really making enough to live on, and so it is time for a change?
  • Workload—Too little work and you are bored and unchallenged, too much and you are spread too thin and go home stressed out at the end of each day. Finding the right balance for you can be the key to workplace happiness.
  • Team—A boss that criticizes your work, co-workers that gossip around the water cooler and a generally unhappy working environment can be stressful for anyone, but particularly after rehab. Walking back into such an environment may inhibit recovery.

Reasons to Stay

You may read the list above and be all fired up to quit and change jobs.  Before you do, also examine these reasons to stay:

  • Predictability—A daily routine and stable, predictable day can be important components of a successful recovery. It’s not just about a paycheck, having a reason to get up and get going each day can go a long way toward helping you feel useful and happy.
  • Mental Health—Work can improve self-esteem and contribute to healthy brain function. Without work, your restless hands and restless mind may return to substance abuse.  If are frustrated with your work, you may actually just need more—a steeper workload and more responsibility at your existing job may be just the ticket.
  • Team—Even if your job doesn’t pay the best, or your day-to-day is a little on the dull side, you may have discovered in rehab what a loyal workplace you have. A team that stood by and supported you during addiction, or continues to encourage you and support you after rehab, has a value beyond what a paycheck can measure.  A great working environment may be a reason to stay, even if other factors point to a change.

Stay but Grow

If you examine all of these points and find you just need some small changes, you may be able to stay but grow within your company.  It may just be time to:

  • Ask for more responsibility
  • Ask for a raise or a promotion
  • Ask to cross-train on another job, to gain another skill set
  • Or, read a book or take a class on your own, to improve your skills for a possible job change/promotion/expansion down the road.

Just as you learned in rehab that relationships take continual care and addiction management requires continuous vigilance, workplace success and happiness require ongoing diligence.

As you continue to enhance yourself and your skills, you will either find opportunities for growth within your existing employment situation or make the leap to your next challenge.  Either way: you deserve to have meaningful work.

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