Moving back into everyday life after spending time in rehab or attending a rehab program is a huge step. One of the first questions for many people is what do I do with my time and why. For some of us, that’s easy, we have careers to return to. For many others, we don’t have career paths, our previous jobs were toxic and stressful, or a change of pace and life is exactly what we need. Where do you go from here?
For many people, answering that question is extremely difficult. Often, it’s a bad idea to make permanent decisions for yourself while you’re still in early recovery. After all, it takes 3 months for most temporary damage to the brain to heal and another 1-2 years for longer-term damage to recover. You don’t have to make decisions until you’re ready. At the same time, work positively contributes to your ability to reintegrate, to take care of yourself, and to feel like you’re working towards your goals.
Pick Something Temporary
If you’re struggling to choose a career direction, the good news is that you don’t have to right away. Instead, you can use this time to try out a temporary job. Having that low pressure will mean you know you can always leave if you don’t like it. You’ll also have the freedom to try out being around different types of roles and in different industries.
For example, you can take a few months to try being a barista, to work as a messenger, to try working as an information desk clerk, or any of a number of other roles. Best of all, most of those types of jobs allow you to take on part time roles, to explore how much energy you have, and to figure out how you work in different levels of stress and different situations. Most are also fairly social, so you’ll have plenty of time to talk to people and get back into interacting with others outside of rehab.
Part time jobs are also a great way to give yourself more room to go to recovery and ongoing treatment, to have more time to focus on yourself, and to build back into a job slowly. For example, if you want to spend time studying, want to stay in a halfway home, want to continue going to rehab in an outpatient setting, or want time to work on yourself, a part time job is ideal. However, you’ll always have to balance that with what you need to pay bills and live comfortably, so you may have to choose full time instead, if you don’t have to, part time jobs can be a very good intermediate step between treatment and working.
Ready to Start A New Life?
Our hands-on approach, compassionate staff, and home-like environment are here for you. Call us today.
Discuss Career Goals with a Counselor
If you’re still seeing a counselor or therapist, taking time to discuss your working future with them is a very good idea. Here, they can help you piece together what you want from a job, what should work for you, and what you can get into based on your past. Then, you can work together to build out a career path, either starting with getting a job in the industry or finding a place to go to school and study for what you want.
For example, a lot of people leave recovery and go to study to be counselors, social workers, and recovery specialists. Doing so will normally take several years of studying for your role, which will give you time to recover from substance abuse and to ensure you’re strong enough in your recovery to face others who are using.
At the same time, there are thousands of career paths and options. Vocational careers like electrician and plumber pay well and require a few years of vocational training, working as a dental hygienist or HVAC technician has the same perks. You can sit down to think about what you like to do, how you like to interact with people, what kinds of environments you like, and make decisions accordingly. And, there’s nothing wrong with going back to your old career if you think that might be good for you or feasible for you.
For most people, taking time to think about what you want to do and why is not something that happens immediately. So, once you make a plan for starting a new career path, take time to double check, think about it, try open days at a workplace in the field, and otherwise get a feel for what the role is and what work there is about.
Don’t Start Working in Treatment or Recovery
Many of us are tempted to move from rehab to immediately working in treatment and recovery fields. It’s only natural you’d want to help others like others have helped you. However, doing so in early recovery can significantly expose you to people who are still addicted, who might still have drugs and alcohol, and who have mindsets that are unhealthy for you – and at a point where your own recovery is still fragile.
For this reason, it’s always better to wait a while before you move into this kind of role. That includes volunteering helping in treatment centers, volunteering around populations with high rates of addiction (e.g., homeless shelters and soup kitchens), or trying to help others in your position. As stated above, you can start taking steps to get into education and the credentials you would need to work in those fields, but it is important that you have time to grow and move into those roles safely.
Starting a job will introduce you to people, will structure your days, and will allow you to take care of yourself. Financial freedom is an important part of recovery for many people, because it helps us to feel better about ourselves. At the same time, social and structural aspects can be immensely valuable. However, if your mental health isn’t up for a full-time job yet, don’t be pressured into one. Take on a part time role, talk to your psychiatrist or therapist, and make the decisions that are right for your health and your recovery.