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How to avoid workplace relapse triggers.
June 15, 2017

5 Tips for Coping with Workplace Addiction Triggers

How to avoid workplace relapse triggers.Coping with workplace addiction triggers can be a big concern for those in recovery. One classic example is the question of how to navigate work happy hour when you’re sober. And if only work happy hour were the only environmental addiction trigger that those in recovery have to contend with in the workplace….

Environmental Triggers for Substance Abuse in the Workplace

The following factors are only a few of many that conspire to make work a challenging environment for those in recovery:

  • 70 percent of all Americans who use illicit drugs are in the workforce, and roughly one in four workers reportedly drinks during the workday, according to statistics cited by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).
  • Marijuana is the leading drug of abuse in the workplace, followed by cocaine and then prescription drugs, the NCADD reports.
  • Workers in the restaurant and hospitality business have the highest rates of illicit drug use—20 percent—when compared with other industries, according to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. If you consider for a moment that the restaurant industry employs some 14 million people (not including those in hospitality), that’s a sizable number of people.

How to Cope With Workplace Addiction Triggers

Such data suggests both the prevalence of substance abuse and the availability of drugs in the workplace, and also helps to underline how in certain work cultures at least (such as food services), a lifestyle of partying, drinking and imbalanced social engagement poses still other addiction cues and triggers. Sheer avoidance of these temptations is often unrealistic. A recovery-friendly work environment is of course ideal, but not always achievable.

That prompts the question, “How do you cope with workplace addiction triggers?” Here are five tips that may be helpful, and feel free to share yours, too:

  1. Work closely with a sponsor on triggers and cravings. A 12-step sponsor can be a great resource, as an accountability partner and source of encouragement and practical suggestions. Together the two of you can draw up a relapse prevention plan for various scenarios you may encounter in your place of work.
  2. Get plenty of sleep, and as a general rule, try to avoid the late night scene. The food services industry is notorious for late night boozing and socializing, which can be a toxic mix for someone new to recovery. You’re also more prone to relapse when you’re tired and aren’t getting enough sleep. By focusing on a lifestyle that prioritizes a healthy sleep pattern, you’re doing your recovery a big favor.
  3. Keep yourself busy with sober social events outside of work. 12-step meetings, coffee dates, and sober recreational activities with others in recovery are all good ways to keep yourself busy and substantively distracted when cravings hit; they are also an easy, polite way to bow out of workplace invitations that involve drugs or alcohol. Populate your calendar with plenty of these sorts of sober social events.
  4. Limit the amount of hours per week that you spend in your work environment. The more you’re around workplace triggers, the greater your chances of giving in to drugs or alcohol during a moment of weakness. If you can’t totally avoid these triggers, at least try to limit the length of your exposure to them.
  5. Practice healthy stress coping skills. Stress at work is itself a risk factor for relapse, so prioritize stress management and self-care. These methods of stress reduction are a good place to start.
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