Returning to work after rehab is a challenge all by itself on top of which you have to manage your addiction and your personal life simultaneously. If you were fortunate enough to enter a rehab for business owners, then you were given the tools to manage addiction in this very specific field.

That is just the start. Your counselors and therapists are going to recommend that you take as much time as needed to make sure you are not overdoing it, and that you are maintaining focus on yourself and your recovery. But the reality is, you’re a business owner and that means it can feel like your job is your life. At least it can feel that way, which is why returning to work after rehab is not easy.

Understanding Your Stress

Elon Musk was quoted as saying:

Creating a company is a very difficult thing. A friend of mine has a saying: ‘Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss.’ You have to do lots of things you don’t like.” 1

And it can really feel like that sometimes. That’s why returning to work after rehab is a critical step in the recovery process and a potentially dangerous time for relapse. Returning to old habits is easy when faced with old realities. The stresses of a high-powered position are also a breeding ground for addictive behavior and again the opportunity to relapse is very much a real and present danger.

What to Expect when Going Back to Work after Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, remember that it is going to be difficult. No matter how to slice it, returning to work after drug treatment is no walk in the park. You are going to be facing challenges without the crutch that addiction temporarily provided. You are going to be put into difficult situations and work-related stress, there are doing to be deadlines.

Ground yourself in this reality and also allow some hope in there too. It’s not all doom and gloom. You are also going to see the people you are used to seeing every day, and you are going to be back at doing what you loved. The most important thing to remember is that you should expect it to be tough at first.

Tips to Return to Work After Rehab

The key to returning to run your business after rehab is to keep these 5 tips in mind: 2

  • Establish a Return-to-Work Agreement

You can do this with yourself, it is very possible. The U.S. Department of Labor recommends an Return To Work Agreement be in place before an employee returns to the workplace. We recommend that business owners use this as a starting point to make promises to themselves. Give it to a loved one or someone you trust and ask them to rate it for you. Are these expectations reasonable?

Once you have determined that they are, you must stick to them.

  • Keep an Eye on Yourself

You have to watch yourself and keep tabs on yourself. This requires a high degree of honesty and an overall need to ensure that you are following your own rules and maintaining your own sanity. The best thing to do is set up a schedule and stick to it. If you tell yourself you are going to stop working at 5PM , then work stops at 5PM.

  • Don’t Dive in Too Far

It’s very, very easy for business owners and executives to replace drug addiction with work addiction. Often, alcoholics will become workaholics which is not a healthy replacement. Keep an eye on yourself and how much you are working. Be sure to schedule down time as well.

Dealing with Network Rumors

Returning to work after rehab means facing the music. The old rotten parts of your past will resurface and you can only confront them head on.

The best course of action is to face it head on and to quell the rumors with simple truth. Own up to your past failings, especially if you can see rumors harming a business relationship. It is always better to speak the truth. If you are forthright about your struggles with addiction and running a business, you may be surprised to learn you are not alone.



[1]: INC – Elon Musk Says The Human Brain Cannot Cope With Business Failure. Is He Right?

[2]: – Substance Abuse in the Workplace: What to Do When an Employee Returns from Rehab

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