As if our emotional challenges during the reintegration process weren’t enough, we also face logistical challenges, the difficulties in our daily lives and routines that can threaten our sobriety if we don’t learn how to deal with them. These challenges can cause us a tremendous amount of stress and overwhelm, adding to our feelings of depression and anxiety. When we aren’t mindful of them, they can derail our healing progress and contribute to our addictive patterns and emotional struggles.
A huge challenge for many of us upon leaving treatment and reentering our former lives is returning to work. Many of us have lost our jobs due to our struggles with addiction. Some of us lost our jobs when we finally made the choice to enter treatment. Some of us have formed strong relationships with our employers and have jobs waiting for us when we’ve finished treatment, but many of us aren’t so lucky. We’ll have to prove ourselves to new employers, many of whom are wary of working with people with substance abuse problems. They’re hesitant to give us a try, especially given the prevalence of other issues that accompany addiction, such as mental health issues, extended time off, and criminal records. Many of us are tempted to conceal our history, knowing how much more likely we are to be given a chance at employment if we do. Some employers, though, will be forgiving of gaps in our employment history and any legal problems we may have incurred. Many are understanding of the reality of addiction and just how prevalent it has become.
Once we do find a job, maintaining employment is another challenge altogether. We’ll have to contend with depression and anxiety, which can make working feel impossible. We’ll have to prioritize our work over our addictions, something many of us aren’t used to after years of prioritizing our substance abuse. We’ll need to make sure we’re able to keep up with the demands of work, which can be extra challenging when we’ve been living with addiction for so long. Many workplaces are becoming more familiar with the reality of addiction, given that so many employees struggle with it, and it is a large part of their lives. Many employers are starting to encourage more open discussion about addiction in the workplace, to help people feel comfortable enough to seek out the support they need and to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction that ultimately can shame people into secrecy and relapse. Some are even helping employees connect with helpful addiction and mental health resources, because they see the value in helping employees through their challenges rather than merely replacing them. More companies are starting to see addiction as a medical issue that people need support to recover from, and they’re beginning to offer this support rather than judgment and rejection. Dealing with work, and the accompanying pressure to keep our addiction history a secret, can be one of the toughest logistical challenges we face when reintegrating.
As we know, addiction can totally overtake our lives. Many of us lose everything, and it’s only once we’ve hit rock bottom that we finally get help. For some of us, this means we’ve lost our homes and all our savings, many of us because our money went to our substance abuse problem. A huge logistical challenge when we’re reintegrating is figuring out where we’ll live. Homelessness among addicts is quite common, including those of us already are in recovery. After leaving treatment, many facilities offer helpful resources, such as sober living houses and assistance with housing. Many of us, however, are still in the clutches of the addictions and mental health issues that brought us to treatment in the first place, and we’re not yet able to take advantage of the resources and services available to us. Many of us find it hard to accept help, sometimes because we’re prideful and afraid to appear vulnerable. Shelter is one of our basic needs, without which we’re at risk of relapsing and of continuing to suffer from our mental illnesses.
Another challenge when reintegrating is the nature of our living situation and the presence of other addicts in our lives. Sometimes the people we live with are the people who most contributed to our addictive patterns, by having a substance abuse problem themselves and encouraging us to use, or by enabling us through their own denial. Our loved ones often don’t want to believe that we, and they, have a problem. It can be easier to try to avoid the truth than to face the harsh reality that we’re addicts. When we’re returning to our regular lives, sometimes the family members, friends or roommates we spend the most time with can present a challenge for us and threaten our sobriety. We’ll need to deal with the logistics of our living situations in order to increase our chances of preserving our recovery. We’ll need to make sure that where we live is a safe and secure environment, free from the substances, behaviors and people that tempt us. We’ll want to make sure we’re living with people who are sober themselves and who support our efforts to stay sober.
The logistical challenges to our sobriety can make the reintegration process just as challenging as the emotional ones, and can contribute to our emotional difficulties, making us depressed, anxious, stressed and overwhelmed. Learning to cope with these day-to-day issues can mean the difference between the accomplishment of staying sober and the bitter disappointment of relapsing.
The community at Riverside Recovery is here to help you face all of the emotional and logistical challenges associated with recovery and reintegration. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.