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5 Ways to Ensure Job Security During Recovery


Sober Recovery Expert Author

man wearing a suit looks out the window

Recovery is a long, difficult process, but maintaining a job works as an incentive to seeing your recovery through. It’s never easy returning to work after rehab. The pressure to perform is great. It's a cat and mouse game with your employer. One false move and everything falls apart. So it’s important to stay well-informed about what will get you fired. Here are 5 ways to keep your job through addiction recovery.

1. Know your rights.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that recovering addicts do not face work discrimination after rehab. That’s the first level of job security and you should be aware of it. If you went into rehab under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and provided you were not fired first, your job is protected and you may return to it, or you may seek new employment without discrimination. Employers are also required to readjust your working hours so you may attend treatment. These laws apply to federal, state or local employees, and those working for a private company with 50 or more workers.

How do you keep your job during recovery? It's you versus your employer—a cat and mouse game. You've got to stay ahead with these 5 suggestions.

2. Understand the rules of reengagement.

On your return from rehab, your employer will likely want you to sign an agreement outlining what’s required of you going forward. The agreement may be drawn up with personnel from your rehab center and may involve monitoring of your recovery progress, and periodic testing to ensure you remain clean. There could also be a clause on job termination if you don’t follow the rules. It’s important to understand all requirements and abide by them if you’re to keep your job. However, to perform to required standards, you need to be able to attend treatment sessions. So make sure your employer factors the times and dates of these treatments into the agreement so they are not used against you later on.

3. Stive to be a model employee.

Your return agreement should spur you to do your very best. Your employer has made a number of accommodations and expects you to deliver. You could offer to work overtime during vacations or weekends to make up for time lost when you’re having treatment. Showing you’re committed enhances your security on the job. Apart from the health benefits and salary you’ll accrue, sustaining a job is good for your self esteem and boosts your overall recovery efforts.

However, ensure that you don’t violate the agreement as this will give your employer the right to terminate your employment. ADA does not protect people who fail to stay clean when they return from rehab.

4. Avoid on-the-job stress.

Taking charge of your work performance is crucial to remaining on the job. Monitor your stressors closely and develop healthy responses to them. Don’t let idle talk or gossip from co-workers, as well as pressure to perform, get the better of you. It will affect your ability to think clearly and to deliver, and you may return to habits that will get you fired such as lateness, absenteeism and substance reuse. Seek help from your therapist and support group if you find yourself overwhelmed.

5. Enhance your aftercare.

Taking care of yourself outside of work will boost your performance. Get at least seven hours of sleep. The more alert you are, the better able you are to get things done and secure your job. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet helps you to stay focused. Develop a hobby that totally absorbs you, outside of work, so you can cope with stress that’s affecting your job performance. You could also enroll in a course that makes you the go-to person on the job. Hours of idle time might tempt you to start drinking again and that bodes ill for your job security.

Maintaining your job security is like negotiating a minefield. But if you play by the rules, and avoid stress both at home and work, your task will be easier.

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