By Cristina Utti
While it is true that it is up to the individual to want to stay clean and sober no matter what, there are also people, places, and things that can be avoided in early recovery to make the path smoother. Most human beings spend more than two-thirds of their daily life sleeping and at work. If we do not get the proper amount of rest, we do not function properly and can become ill. If we have the wrong job, (where we spend more than one-third of our days until we retire) this can also make us sick. Having the right job is important for everyone, not just the recovering addict. We know that we are in the right line of work when our work does not feel like work, when we are doing what we love. Sometimes it takes steps to get to the point where we can do what we love and make money at it, and in getting there the bills still have to be paid.
Addiction is peculiar. It always is lurking, ready to strike when we are down or unaware. One of the secrets to long-term sobriety is the realization that the urge may strike even with years clean. The right mindset, being around positive sober people, and being in a healthy environment are crucial for mental health. Every step away from recovery is a step closer to relapse. In early sobriety it is vital to keep as many stressors as possible to a minimum. Being that we spend the majority of each day at our jobs, take a look at what environment you are exposing yourself to day in and day out. Below are the top jobs that endanger sobriety and recovery as ranked by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
Illicit drug use:
Accommodations and food services – 19.1 percent
Arts, entertainment, and recreation – 13.7 percent
Management – 12.1 percent
Information – 11.7 percent
Construction – 11.6 percent
Heavy alcohol use:
Mining – 17.5 percent
Construction – 16.5 percent
Accommodations and food services – 11.8
Arts, entertainment and recreation – 11.5
Utilities – 10.3
If you work in one of the above industries, you probably already know what goes on. Just because you do not abuse substances any longer does not necessarily mean that you have to quit your job. I was working as a waitress on nights and weekends to supplement my income from my full-time job when I first got sober. Some of my co-workers could not understand why I did not want to hang out after work. I made up excuses why I had to go right home after my shift. Because I had worked in the restaurant business for so many years, this type of work was comfortable to me. After I passed my six-month mark in sobriety, going into the restaurant became more and more painful. Two months later, I quit. I began tutoring part-time in the evenings instead of having to deal with the restaurant environment.
If you are newly clean and sober and seeking employment, it is advisable not to apply at any of the industries listed above. If you are already employed in one of the above, you will know when it is time to move on. Remember, you can always find another job, you can’t get this life over again.
Substance Use and Substance Abuse by Industry