For those struggling with substance abuse, the effects of the abuse can permeate to all areas of life. From relationships with family and friends to overall lifestyle, substance abuse plays a huge factor in daily routines and responsibilities and can have a huge impact on an abuser’s career. Jobs can play a big roll in recovery from substance abuse. Careers serve as a stabilizing force that can solidify and increase the likelihood of long-term results. Here’s why.

Social Identity

Social identity is how one perceives themselves in relation to a group, e.g., team at work, neighborhood, sports team or club. Social psychologist Henri Tajfel developed the concept of social identity during the 1970s and 80s. According to his theories, certain intergroup actions are a direct result of the perceived group status.

Organizations such as workplaces can modify an individual’s behavior. For those suffering with addiction, the social identities gained through a workplace can have a positive effect on recovery. Substance abuse treatment programs are the first step in the addiction recovery process. Following treatment, there are a number of factors that contribute to continued sobriety and healing. Outpatient treatment can provide ongoing professional assistance. Outside of that, the social support and financial constructs that a job provides can help facilitate recovery as well.

The Benefits of a Career for Recovery

Co-workers and members of other social circles can help provide a sense of purpose and responsibility to someone struggling with substance abuse. A job adds structure to routines and mental and physical challenges that can motivate substance abusers to repurpose their motivations towards recovery and success.

During the early stages of addiction, co-workers can be the first to recognize behavior that is symptomatic of larger issues. Tardiness and work performance can indicate struggle outside of the workplace. After a patient returns from treatment and seeks to continue recovery, the workplace can provide accountability and purpose. Social identities and affirmations received at work can play a large part in shaping attitudes about recovery.

For those getting treatment for substance abuse, it is important to speak with a recovery specialist before returning to work. Continuing aftercare treatment and maintaining employment after treatment can provide a pathway to prolonged recovery.