Work and Money Issues for Recovering Drug Addicts and Alcoholics

May 3rd, 2011

Many recovering drug addicts and alcoholics struggle to cope with responsibilities that relate to work, being fairly remunerated and managing the money earned in a responsible and prudent way.
Most people in recovery have to return to work immediately after attending addiction treatment, and money management is one area where most of us could use some help.
The vast majority of people that develop a substance abuse problem, whether to alcohol or other drugs have employment records that have been negatively affected through our drinking and using.
Work Issues
Working is essential for a normalised lifestyle and it increases self-esteem. Many addicts and alcoholics have to find new ways to reignite old careers or find a way to change direction entirely!
This is no small feat whilst in the early days of recovery from addiction when juggling a new range of behaviours.
For some, being employment also helps with responsibility, as supporting themselves and their families is paramount. However, there are a number of work issues that may cause possible relapse triggers for those in recovery.

Being back in the reality of life at work after the protection of an in-patient drug addiction rehab center may be a huge psychosocial stress factor.
A fear of failure in the workplace can cause self-esteem to be negatively impacted.
Returning to work can trigger relapse if you are used to drinking alcohol socially with colleagues or were involved with drugs in any way with colleagues.
If the job is stressful there is a huge temptation to relax or unwind after a hard day at work by having a drink or using drugs.

Making Use of Drug Addiction Recovery Tools
During after-care planning at the rehab, prior to discharge, your addiction counsellor will help to prepare you for your return to work and life outside of the drug addiction treatment setting. You will be encouraged to use the tools that you learnt about during your stay in rehab.
During work, you can remain in contact with your support system and it may be advisable to increase your 12 step support group meeting attendance.
Money Issues
Money issues may crop up in your life due to returning to work. You will once again be required to manage your money in a responsible manner. For many alcoholics and drug addicts this can be quite a challenge as generally those who are involved in substance abuse are irresponsible with regards to money issues.
Simply having money available can be a trigger for returning to drug or alcohol use.
A lot of addicts reach the place that if they have money they will use it to buy drugs. Sometimes they will purchase drugs before buying food or paying the rent. This can also lead to other compulsive behaviors like gambling or overspending.
Money Management
If you have a history of struggling with money management, your addiction counsellor will take this into consideration and tailor your treatment accordingly.
Some practical recommendations include the following.

Allowing someone trustworthy like your spouse or parent to manage your money with you.
Avoiding the use of an ATM card.
Putting your money into an account so that you have the inconvenience of physically having to go to the bank to make a withdrawal.

Use the practical pointers given above and remain close to your peers, aftercare group, addiction counsellors and sponsors in 12 step support group to avoid relapse.

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