While the stress of losing a job can seem overwhelming, there are many things you can do to take control of the situation and stay sober. There are things you can do to maintain your spirits, and find a renewed sense of purpose.
Whether you’ve been laid off, forced to take early retirement, or seen contract work dry up, losing your employment is one of life’s most stressful experiences. In a poll, last year alone two-thirds of Americans report losing some form of employment during the COVID crisis. The most widely used measure is the unemployment rate. It counts how many people are able to work and want a job, but can’t find one. The most recent unemployment rate – from September to November 2020 – was 5.0%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). That is an increase of 0.6% over the previous three months and means that 1.72 million people were unemployed.
While the widespread, unprecedented nature of the crisis means that you shouldn’t feel any blame for your situation, that may be of little comfort when you’re stressed about paying bills and other necessities. Aside from the obvious financial anguish, it can cause, the stress of losing a job can also take a heavy toll on your mood, relationships, and overall mental and emotional health. All of this leads to increased stress on your delicate sobriety.
So how do you stay sober after a job loss? Just like anything in life, it helps to have a plan to follow and a backup plan. Below are some tips to help you stay sober after you’ve been fired or laid off from your job.
Allow yourself to grieve
Grief is a natural response to loss, and that includes the loss of a job. As well as the loss of income, being out of work also comes with other major losses, some of which may be just as difficult to face:
- A feeling of control over your life
- Your professional identity
- Your self-esteem and self-confidence
- A daily routine
- Purposeful activity
- Friendships and a work-based social network
- You and your family’s sense of security
Take one day at a time
When we feel grief and anger it can sideline us. There were some days I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I knew that putting one foot in front of the other and doing the basics of life would help me get through the hard moments. Just getting up, getting dressed, taking a shower, forcing myself to exercise, make food, and feed myself were achievements, and that’s okay. Sometimes acknowledging what needs to be done first to survive, to stay sober, doing those things, and taking it day-by-day can be fulfilling. Over time those tasks became easier for me and I was able to begin to search for new jobs and become motivated again.
Use your support system
Your natural reaction at this difficult time may be to withdraw from friends and family out of shame or embarrassment. But don’t underestimate the importance of other people when you’re faced with the stress of job loss and unemployment. During this time clear communication is critical with your family. This way, they’ll know the family will be OK and back to normal sooner than later. When choosing who to talk with consider these thoughts.
- Stay in contact with your sponsor, an addiction counselor, or anyone else who has offered support during your journey to sobriety. The people in your life want you to stay sober and should be willing to help. Avoid anyone who may be a negative influence, and focus only on uplifting and positive friends and family.
- The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to offer solutions; they just have to be a good listener, someone who’ll listen attentively without becoming distracted or passing judgement.
- As well as making a huge difference in how you feel, reaching out to others can help you feel more in control of your situation, and you never know what opportunities will arise.
- You may want to resist asking for support out of pride but opening up won’t make you a burden to others. In fact, most people will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your relationship.
Maintain structure and schedule
It can be all too easy to fall victim to self-pity after undergoing something like a job loss. Allowing yourself to have too much downtime can be a curse. Rather than stay in bed all day and wonder what your next step will be, make sure that you are making daily 12 step meetings. Keep up with prayer and meditation and continue to call your sponsor every day. Not only does sharing where you’re at in 12 step meetings help you process your emotions, relate to others and stay sober, but someone might approach you with a job opportunity after the meeting, or be able to offer you some valuable insight.
Utilize all of the tools you learned in inpatient treatment
You may have learned a lot of tools during addiction treatment to help you stay sober during weak moments. Whether it’s taking deep breaths, doing yoga, or jotting down your thoughts in a journal, take the time to utilize the mechanisms you’ve been taught.
Stay positive to stay sober
When you lose a job, it is easy to focus on the negative in your life. But instead, try to focus on the positive that is happening in your life. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst. This door may have closed because there is something better waiting for you. But of course, waiting still requires looking for a new job.
To stay sober means you are able to transition into this next phase of life without the confusion of addiction. Maybe it was a job you didn’t enjoy or a field that wasn’t suited for you. Focus on the fact that you get to now find a job that you enjoy in a field that may be a better fit for you, as well as focusing on all the other positive things happening in your life at the time, including your sobriety
Continue going to therapy to stay sober
Though it is challenging and at times, putting your recovery first can feel selfish; but the reality is your recovery is life sustaining – it’s crucial. You simply cannot be a present parent, child, employee, or friend if you are not focused on being your best self first. This includes making the time to continue your therapy after a job loss. Addiction is a complex disease that can affect a multitude of areas in an individual‘s life. During a job loss it can be even more difficult to navigate what to do next. When you need help during this time, Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is here for you.
Just as when you were leaving treatment for the first time, to stay sober during a job loss it’s important to consider which treatment would be best for you. Harmony Ridge addiction therapy treatment programs provide wellness coaching on keeping physically fit. They’ll also learn how to incorporate healthy choices back into their lifestyle.
Practicing holistic therapy helps patients concentrate on their overall well being while additionally treating their physical withdrawal symptoms. Holistic therapies may include acupuncture, yoga, guided meditation, and art therapy.
- Experiential Therapy
Experiential therapy employs unorthodox treatment techniques to aid recovering addicts in defeating repressed feelings and emotions that might have contributed to their addiction. General forms of this therapy include outdoor recreational activities like mountain biking, rock-climbing, and hiking.
- Adventure Therapy
Engaging in physical activity like walking, horseback riding, or kayaking can help patients relax and express their most profound emotions. Adventure therapy also helps patients develop trust, connections, and friendships through hands-on activities that can be applied to recovery. Adventure therapy encourages patients to recover simply by doing.
Volunteer your time to help others
Most likely, you’ll want to start your job search as soon as possible so that you can find work again. It may take a while to find a new position, but volunteering while you’re unemployed can help you bridge the gap between jobs. Fortunately, the benefits of volunteering after you’ve been laid off are numerous—and can help jumpstart your job search, too.
- It gives you purpose.
- It’s a way to help your community.
- Add new skills to your resume with new experiences.
- It’s a great way to network and add new contacts and friends.
- It can help you to reassess your Career Goals
Stay Sober with Harmony Ridge Recovery Center
You’ve taken the big steps to get sober. With the right amount of dedication and determination, maintaining sobriety after a job loss is possible. Thousands of people, like you, have achieved recovery from drug and alcohol addiction with the help of our kind and compassionate team of medical professionals. The first step towards achieving recovery is giving us a call. Our team of admissions professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Give us a call today! (855) 942-3797