A meaningful career is an important factor in individual addiction and recovery. At Sunshine Coast Health Center we hear many clients say they “love” their job – at least, they think they do.
We’ve compiled the following information from past workplace, career, and meaning articles we’ve posted on the website to help businesses, employers, and employees foster fulfilling and satisfying careers.
Why do they “love” their job?
One reason individuals with addictions think they love their jobs may be because they can go to work under the influence or impaired. It may be one of the few places remaining where they can maintain their addiction. For example, this behaviour continues because: their workplace has yet to notice their impairment, they supervise or own the workplace, or the workplace is conducive to their substance usage.
A person dealing with an addiction will often continue going to work (sometimes impaired) as it is one of the few environments where he or she doesn’t experience tension or conflict with others. It is also one of the few remaining places where they may still receive positive feedback and praise. Because of this, work becomes their identity. Without work, many say there’d be no point in living. Fear of losing this positive environment is partly the reason why individuals abusing substances are often slowest to seek help.
How do you help?
Since individuals with addictions are often at work, workplaces have a unique opportunity to lower the prevalence of substance abuse. Unfortunately, small and medium business workplaces commonly face problems of having little to no resources or access to mental health services. As well, various laws surrounding privacy and human rights make it risky for companies to take direct action. If this sounds like you, Sunshine Coast Health Center has many resources for employers and workplaces on addiction, prevention, and treatment. See our Drug Info Chart to learn about drug types and commonly abused substances.
One of the ways addiction and relapse can be avoided at work and in life is pursuing a career that provides high personal meaning, happiness, and fulfillment. As you read on, you will see that having a meaningful career is easier said than done.
How do we find meaning in our jobs?
Your job is meaningful when its purpose fulfills you. For many, when they know their job makes a difference to others – whether it is a small group, a community, or large population – they have an increased sense of meaning and happiness.
When looking at recovery, Geoff Thompson, Clinical Director at Sunshine Coast Health Center, tells clients it is important for them to pursue a career that holds true, personal meaning. While at first many clients state they love their jobs, when they think deeply on why they love it they soon learn it’s for the wrong reasons and, in fact, they don’t love it. Many individuals with addictions maintain jobs purely for:
– A consistent pay-cheque
– Buying “big ticket items”
– The adrenaline rush
– Being a business owner/boss
“You’ll know your career is fulfilling, when you wake up in the morning excited to go to work for no reason other than enjoying your job,” says Thompson.
A big problem or limitation faced by many individuals is the process of achieving a more meaningful career. In order to achieve their dream job, or as Geoff calls it “your bliss”, individuals may have to go back to school or start in an entry-level position at a reduced wage. It can be a difficult decision to live on a reduced income or take out student loans, especially when there are bills to be paid or dependents to support.
When a person makes up several reasons for not changing jobs – they may be scared. It’s okay to be scared though; it’s a big change. Most people have to decide if being scared is worth the long-term goal of meaningful work, or finding your bliss, and having a happy life and recovery. If the pay or material return isn’t the same in the end, it doesn’t really matter because you’re happy, right?
Watch Geoff’s online addiction & recovery support videos for his full discussion on psychologically healthy workplaces.
4 part series – Psychologically Healthy Workplace Videos
Meaning vs Intensity
The Job as Part of Life, Not All
Finding Meaningful Work