Returning to Work After Alcohol Treatment – What Should You Do?

Contrary to what the media thinks, not every alcoholic is an unemployed bum who sits in his or her house all day. The truth is most alcoholics have jobs just like everyone else. This presents a new challenge, though. If you have already gone to drug rehab, the chances are you are due to be back at work soon. How do you react? What will your co-workers say? How are you going to broach the difficult subject of why you were away?

What is the Common Reaction?

Our biggest fear is that we will leave rehab clinics only to return to a workplace filled with negativity and toxic thoughts. This is not the case. Even if you are not particularly fond of your co-workers, the fact is the majority of people are well aware of the damage alcoholism can cause. It is highly unlikely that you will encounter any hostility upon your return.

This is a common fear borne out of our own insecurities. For some people, it is so bad that they delay their return to work for days until they pluck up the courage to go back.

Do You Say Anything?

You do not have to make a big song and dance about why you were away. Nobody is going to expect you to get up in front of the group and admit that you are an alcoholic. In fact, many former alcoholics are shocked to find that when they return everyone is getting on with work as if you were never way.

What many people don’t realise is your average person on the street does not care about why you were away. All that matters to them is that you’re back now.

When you go back to work, walk in as normal, sit down, and do your job. You may have a brief discussion with your boss or manager, but this is unlikely to be invasive and you are not obliged to talk about anything you do not want to talk about. Your place of work is there to support you not bring you down.

What if Someone Asks?

So, let’s say that you have a work friend and they’re wondering why you’re away. Before you answer, think back to alcohol rehab clinics and what they preach. One of the first counselling sessions you participated in involved you admitting to yourself and the group that you are an alcoholic. Apply the same principles here.

There is no need to feel embarrassed about it. If someone asks where you were, tell them the truth. If people know you’re comfortable about where you’ve been, they will not ask again. Moreover, if you are working with people who understand what you are going through the chances are they will help you.

An Irrational Fear

Overall, the fear of returning to work because you had to take a leave of absence for rehab is an unfounded one. The majority of people are well aware of alcoholism. It no longer carries the stigma it once did. Be honest about your situation if someone asks, but do not feel like you have to defend yourself to anyone in the workplace.


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