Change is inevitable. Aside from taxes and death, change is guaranteed in life. Nothing stays the same. Often, life can throw us some changes that we find hard to swallow. For people who are recovering from substance abuse, dealing with change in recovery is a difficult prospect. Let’s examine two common life areas where dealing change in recovery can be a big stumbling block: friendships and jobs.
Dealing with Change in Recovery – Friendships
One common area that people need to change to stay sober, or so it is often said, is that they must change their friends. Why is this? Many substance abusers have friends who have the same theme of drug or alcohol abuse throughout their lives. They have often pushed aside “normal” relationships in favor of those that cater to their addictions.
It is quite common to hear people who have several years of recovery from alcoholism state that many people who they thought were their friends were really just drinking buddies. Or, otherwise, their so-called “friends” were only using them to get access to booze or drugs. Once the alcohol, money, or drugs ran out, their friends mysteriously vanished as well. The person who has been sober can easily see that the addicts who they thought were their friends really didn’t care for them at all.
This isn’t the case 100% of the time, or with 100% of people, as each person is different, but it usually is true in the vast majority of cases. It is, however, a pretty clear pattern.
In spite of this, the person who is newly sober may feel like it is hard to give up their “friends.” I believe it is because their addiction is so strong that it finds alternate ways to creep into their thought patterns, and their behavior is still trying to adjust to living a sober life. They may be entirely unaccustomed to associated with anyone who is a positive influence. Substance abusers who are trying to recover certainly don’t want to be tempted by people who use drugs and alcohol. However, they may find it difficult to overcome the mental hurdle of thrill-seeking and “fun-times” that they grew accustomed to over many years.
To successfully do this, they need to form new bonds of community and association with other sober people, or with people who have similar life-goals, career-paths, or the like. All of this takes time to develop.
Dealing with Change in Recovery – Jobs
A second area where changes can be difficult to a person in recovery, or anyone for that matter, is a person’s job. The majority of the time, no one likes it when their job responsibilities, schedules, or other aspects change. Especially when these changes are unexpected.
To the person who is new to recovery, it may be hard getting a job or keeping one. They may lack the social skills to get along with co-workers or customers, or they may lack the mental aptitude to accomplish tasks, including a lack of focus. The first few months sober (or as long as a year or more in times), a recovering person is still adjusting to life. Their nervous system has likely been “shocked” from so many years of abuse that their body is still undergoing biochemical changes. This can make job difficulties feel even more trying.
Once they have recovered a long time, they may still face job problems, as anyone does. Some common job annoyances that impact us all include: working nights, weekends, or overtime (mandatory or otherwise), moving to a new work location, getting a different supervisor, and, of course, pay cuts.
These can drive anyone nuts. For the recovering person, it is important to maintain gratitude no matter what difficulties arise. After all: maybe they were unemployable in the past. The worst thing to do, is to speak before you think and get in trouble or get fired. If job problems arise don’t quit your job rashly or cause a scene: just cope with them as they come, and if the job is really vexing, start looking elsewhere.
Dealing with Change in Recovery – A Summary
It might seem like people who are recovering from substance use disorders are maladapted to life and life’s problems. Although some people certainly can have problems, it is also very true that many who have faced and surmounted addiction can face job or social challenges more easily than those who have not. After all: they have faced and surmounted a life-threatening problem that may have brought them to the brink of death or ruin so little challenges won’t seem to phase them as much.
The extent that a person in recovery can deal with complicated changes all depends on the individual, on their attitude, their willingness, and on how well they can think problems through.
Tags: dealing with changes, changes in recovery, dealing with changes in recovery, sobriety, addiction, addiction help, self help