We all have ambition and we all have to eat. For many of us, if not most, our careers are what get us out of bed in the morning and drive us to be the best we can be. We not only love the idea of getting up each day and putting something out into the world, whether it’s through our hard work, ideas or knowledge, we also need the financial security that our careers and jobs provide us. For those of us in recovery, however, maintaining a full-time professional workload can feel a bit overwhelming, particularly for those who are relatively new to treatment.
Recovery does not mean we have to give up our careers; however, we have to make sure we are ready to resume our professional obligations without them getting in the way of our sobriety. The reality is that, for many of us, the pressures of our jobs drove us to continuing and even increase our substance abuse prior to treatment. We have to learn to treat our careers like blessings rather than burdens in order to avoid relapse and maintain our progress. If we go back to work too early, we’re not doing ourselves, our colleagues or families any good.
We can learn to balance our careers and recovery by incrementally getting back into our posts and continuously assessing our readiness to do more. Some of us may even be able to start off on a part-time or consultant basis and resume a full-time role when they’re ready. We may be surprised how understanding our supervisors and colleagues can be regarding our situation. We all need money, particularly after a prolonged period of financing a substance use habit. However, if we don’t put our recovery first, we run the risk of complicating our careers, and the rest of our lives, all over again.