By Cristina Utti
The early stages of addiction recovery can be precarious. Staying committed to a recovery plan is important, as it being honest with yourself about what people, places, and things make you want to use again. It might be easy to avoid places like bars or clubs, but what if your job is a trigger? Most human beings will spend at least one-third of their lives at work. If your job is stressful to the point that you dread going to work and feel the need to reward yourself for getting through each day, it will likely endanger your recovery.
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 cravings 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 stressors a minimum. 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 percent
Arts, entertainment and recreation – 11.5 percent
Utilities – 10.3 percent
If you work in one of the above industries, you probably already know the stressors involved. 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 sober and seeking employment, know what your stressors are and look for work that will fit your personality and life situation. If you are already employed in a job that is compromising your well-being, start to plan your way out. Take a class in a subject you enjoy that might help you get into a different line of work. Polish your resume and start to explore new opportunities. Create a work life for yourself that is rewarding and meaningful.
Substance Use and Substance Abuse by Industry