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Accumulating time sober allows us to reap many rewards in our lives. We become responsible, reliable members of society. For many of us, the reintegration process includes beginning a new job or continuing one from before getting sober. One of the incredible blessings of recovery is that we may find ourselves accepting positions that we never could have imagined. Our employers entrust us with more responsibility than we are used to and our restored determination and work ethic make us feel ready to take on the task. As we begin a new career or resume an old one, we must be wary of workplace triggers that may be harmful to our recovery. 


A Stressful Work Environment

Stress can be present in any job. Sales, for example, can be a strenuous career. The successes feel paramount, and the failures can be devastating. In most sales jobs, target goals reset every month. While this is a great chance to start fresh, it can also bring a sense of financial insecurity every thirty days, and even overwhelming anxiety when targets aren’t reached towards the end of the month. Another example of a stressful workplace can be in the food industry. Many restaurants and other establishments are fast-paced and require you to give one hundred percent on a daily basis. Some of us may enjoy the momentum of a job such as this and are able to stay focused. Multitasking may be our strong suit. For others, it can be quite agonizing and increases our anxiety. Any job will have highs and lows and will be best suited for different types of people. Pay attention to whether your workplace is healthy for you. Is it a place you can thrive and are comfortable in? Or is it one that causes you more panic than inspiration?


Working with Non-Alcoholics

At your job, there will be many different kinds of people. New employees are hired all the time. Whether or not your coworkers know that you are in recovery, it is important to stay aware of yourself and your sobriety at all times. Following the examples from above, in a strenuous career such as sales, many of your coworkers may attend a happy hour to relieve stress or may use other substances during work to keep them energized. They may believe that they are more successful when they are taking a drug or drinking alcohol, and encourage you to do the same. In the food industry, many dining establishments serve alcohol. Whether you are working in a restaurant with a bar or in fine dining that pairs wine with their meals, being surrounded by alcohol can be extremely triggering while you are trying to perform at work. Serving your customers alcoholic beverages isn’t always the safest way to stay sober. Any work environment will include coworkers who are not alcoholics, who can drink or use other drugs normally. Even if we suspect otherwise (and believe they belong in a 12-Step program) our first priority must be our own sobriety. Stay wary of peer pressure from coworkers, keep in touch with a support system from your program, and continue to do the next right thing. Even if this is the job of your dreams, your recovery comes first. If you aren’t open about being sober, and you do not have to be, take the necessary precautions to ensure that you can manage yourself among coworkers who are not aware of your journey. 


Should I Stay or Should I Go?

When the stress or temptation to relapse grows, the ultimate decision is whether or not you should continue working for a particular job, or if you should separate yourself and look elsewhere. This is something that should be discussed with a sponsor or your friends in recovery and is entirely personal. Remember that all workplaces will have good aspects and bad ones, non-alcoholic coworkers, and some sort of pressure. If your current position is one that you truly feel cannot be managed, you will want to weigh your options. If you find that you have been feeling more tempted to stray from your sobriety at this career, or that you have no time to attend meetings and do the work for your program, perhaps this isn’t the right job for you at this time. As always, there are things we can do before quitting altogether and a solution may be found. We may need to have a discussion with our employer to create some time for us to make it to meetings. Maybe we can create a plan of action for when stress and temptation is a challenge, with a phone list or a friend from recovery who you can call once a day. Prayer and meditation may be the best answer. Implementing a solution, and finding that the situation isn’t getting better means that we may need to find something else.


Keep in mind, there are plenty of options for you! Some people aren’t blessed with a network of friends in recovery who want to help them succeed and who have many different careers. Seek their advice and guidance. Ask around at a meeting to see if anyone knows of job openings that may align with your skill set and interests. Always consult with your sponsor or friends before making an impulsive decision. The goal is not to create more damage, rather it is to protect your sobriety and make sure your recovery is on the correct path. If the stress from the workplace cannot be managed or a solution cannot be found, consider looking at your options, connect with your High Power and sober support system, and the answers will come. 

At The Guest House Ocala, we have personal recovery experience and over 12 years in the recovery industry. We have helped countless people recover, and we’re here to help you too. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.