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For someone in recovery, one of the major goals they can set for themselves is getting back into the workforce, following a career path they love or pursuing their own financial freedom in their sobriety. Getting back to work after completing an inpatient treatment program can be very important, and there are intensive outpatient programs that can help someone learn the necessary life skills for making the transition back into the workforce, balancing their lives, and understanding the stressors that come with living in the “real world.” However, the work culture in the United States itself is incredibly taxing and has its own problems that can lead someone to seek comfort or solace in drugs or alcohol again. Understanding the ways in which the work culture can negatively impact someone in recovery, as well as ways to identify difficult situations or address signs of developing dependencies in others, can help someone maintain their goals for a sober future. 

Working Hard isn’t Working Well

Hard workers should be rewarded for their dedication to a job well done, but the work culture in the United States instead seems to reward working long hours, rather than focusing on the quality of work. However, this intense and long work culture has seen workers, especially in blue-collar positions, working longer and longer hours and dedicating more and more of their time to their jobs rather than their own self-care or families. While work-life balance is supposed to be a focus, the practical environment in the workforce doesn’t always resonate with that statement and instead demands its workers to live for their jobs, rather than allow their work to be rewarded with the means to enjoy their own personal time. The exhaustion and stress that come with this kind of demand are intense. 

With stresses constantly rising, it is becoming more and more commonplace for workers to find groups that regularly attend the bar after work in order to cope with the stress of their jobs and expectations. Not only are hours long, but the expectation of hard work also seems to assume that each person should constantly be pushing to rise higher in their respective companies, which can lead to a very intense, almost cutthroat atmosphere while in the workplace. With a stressful work environment, intense societal and cultural expectations, as well as little time for each person to have to themselves, drugs and alcohol can quickly become the way that someone tries to cope with all of the stress. It can be a very appealing option, due to the fast-acting nature of these substances, as well as the societal acceptance of the bar as a place where people are supposed to go to unwind. However, this also opens the gate for dependencies to develop, and the work and bar culture that seems prevalent can make the transition into the workforce both difficult and dangerous for someone in recovery and attending an intensive outpatient program. 

Monitoring Your Health in the Workplace

Regardless of the societal pressures, it is still important that you put your own health first, regardless of if you are in recovery and going through an outpatient program or managing your own coping mechanisms. This means making a few decisions. First is asking yourself if you truly want to continue to ascend the ranks within a company, and if so, when are you willing to begin that push, and what conflicts you may have when you should be prioritizing consistency over change. It also means setting boundaries for yourself. For example, when someone clocks out for the day, they may choose to turn their phone off so they cannot be bothered by work-related tasks or queries for a set amount of time each day. This can be utilized for things like dinner or establishing a healthy bedtime that can be set to ensure they physically cannot work past a certain time. 

Addressing workmates may also be important in acknowledging how often they attend the bar after work in order to blow off steam. While this conversation can be difficult, it can also help someone keep away from potentially dangerous crowds — they may not realize are developing unhealthy relationships with alcohol or other coping mechanisms. Keeping friends and support systems outside of one’s work-life can help ensure you are using healthy coping mechanisms for the intense stress levels that are brought about by the workplace, and can also help encourage a healthy work-life balance. If an individual works alongside coworkers and then goes to the bar with the same people afterward, the balance between their personal life and professional life can become very blurred, thus not providing them with the real break and detachment they need from work in order to continue a healthy lifestyle. 


The intensity of the work culture in the United States can take a toll on anyone’s mental health, and the constant weight of expectations and stress can cause someone to find any coping mechanism they can. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the caring professionals at Lighthouse Recovery can help you take the first step towards your sober future today. With programs ranging from sober living to intensive outpatient care, there is always a way for someone to take the next step. Each program can be personalized to fit the needs and goals of each person in recovery, and our team of professionals can work alongside you to establish the best and most pertinent coping techniques and life skills that can make a difference for you. Learn more about our services or contact us below to discover how Lighthouse can help you on your road to recovery today. Thank you for your trust.