How Can I Face My Coworkers Again after Addiction?
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One of the side effects of addiction is the embarrassing behaviors that can come from substance use. When they occur in the workplace during active addiction, you may have lacked the social awareness to realize how uncomfortable they made others feel. Sometimes, these same behaviors may push you toward treatment in the first place. Once you are sober, you can see these behaviors and recognize how humiliating they were. How can you face your coworkers again after addiction?

Preparing to Return to Work After Treatment

There are many factors in returning to work after treatment. First and foremost, are you ready for the stressors of your job again? Are you prepared to work full time? Or have you discussed the possibility of working part-time at first with your boss? Is there a possibility of hybrid employment—working part-time in the office and part-time from home—to give you flexibility as you learn to work as a sober person? Considering all of the new experiences and unknowns, such as dealing with cravings, emotions, and coworkers, you may wish to make arrangements for a flexible schedule wherever possible.

Preparing yourself to return involves being vigilant about your sleep, eating, and other daily recovery activities to prepare your mind and body for the daily routine of work. Psychologically, you may want to talk with your therapist about what to anticipate regarding both workload and emotional burdens. Some of these burdens include dealing with coworkers and damage from your past.

Finding Emotional Strength to Face Your Past

When the social ramifications of your behaviors prior to treatment hit you, you will need emotional strength to be able to face your coworkers, who will also remember your actions. You may have forgiven yourself for whatever you did, but they likely have not forgotten.

Even if you have learned not to judge yourself for your past, others may still be placing judgments on you, which can be challenging to navigate emotionally, especially in the workplace. You will need to keep a cool head and remain professional, even if your coworkers say or do unprofessional things. Understanding that they may not have the same knowledge and awareness of substance abuse that you have may help you to distance yourself from their judgments.

Having the Courage to Be Yourself

Knowing who you are and how you have changed in treatment will help you to have the courage to face your past. You can walk back into your place of employment with your head held high, knowing that whatever is in your past is in the past, and each step you take leaves that past further behind.

Walking fearlessly back into work means proving with every step forward that you are a person—not your behaviors, not your past, and not your addiction. Having the courage to accept the spotlight, be accountable, and gain attention for all right reasons will help your coworkers forget about the past and accept you for who you are in the present.

Gaining Redemption With Your Coworkers

When behaviors occur in the workplace, relationships change. You likely lost respect from coworkers and will need to redeem yourself before you can have a similar working relationship again. You may need to make amends and seek forgiveness if there are people you harmed or offended.

For those who were simply witnesses to humiliating behaviors, you can redeem yourself by fearlessly showing up and doing your best job every day. Demonstrating that you are human without needing to be perfect and remaining approachable will also help. Should you choose to talk about your addiction and treatment, and if it is appropriate to do so, being open about it will open the doors to communication and may even inspire others to seek help.

Re-Establishing Trust in the Workplace

When incidents occur in the workplace, trust is often broken. That trust can be difficult to regain. In some situations, you may not be able to restore confidence. In others, it will take time. Being accountable for your actions and understanding that everyone has their own choices to make in response to your efforts will help you make peace with your situation.

As you demonstrate to yourself and others that you can be trusted to show up, do your job, and function consistently, you will re-establish your trust in the workplace. From being afraid to face your coworkers to becoming a trusted associate again, remaining courageous and consistent will help you re-establish belief in yourself and with your coworkers. 

How can you face your coworkers again after shameful workplace behaviors and addiction treatment? You can begin to prepare yourself physically and emotionally to return to work successfully. Having the courage to show up and face judgment without fear and be consistent in your efforts and behaviors will help you re-establish trust in yourself and others’ trust in you. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women is a treatment program that is designed to meet the needs of women in all walks of life. We offer detox and residential treatment for addiction and co-occurring disorders for women in beautiful Costa Mesa, California. Our trauma-informed care and evidence-based practices provide safety in a small, intimate, peaceful environment for a successful recovery. We believe that you already have the tools inside you to achieve sobriety. We help you use them. Contact The Ho Tai Way today at (714) 581-3974 to begin your recovery journey with us.