Working as a bartender can be a very fulfilling career for people that like a fast-paced and personable job setting. Unfortunately, it can be a hard environment for many people recovering from alcohol addiction. If you have a career as a bartender, but are trying to beat alcoholism, you don’t need to feel helpless: there is a strong chance you can keep your career while in recovery.
Is It Possible?
Maintaining a career as a bartender during recovery is possible, but it isn’t necessarily easy. You’re obviously going to have to utilize out-patient rehabilitation care, as opposed to in-patient. Out-patient centers let you live at home, attend work, and live your life like normal. You’ll still have to attend regular meetings and detoxify, but there will be no one to guide you through the process.
For many bartenders, this will be a major challenge, but it can be incredibly liberating for others. Being able to maintain a normal lifestyle may help give them the motivation they need to live a sober life. Remember: in an out-patient program, you are your own boss and are in control of your own actions. The only person you have to answer to is yourself.
In fact, for many people recovering from an alcohol addiction, going back to work as a bartender can serve as an important personal challenge. Being surrounded by alcohol and drinking will certainly test their self-control, and many people will relish in the chance to prove to themselves that they are capable of handling it. In that way, working as a bartender may be a positive boon.
Are There Any Legal Problems?
If you are currently under probation for an alcohol-related offense, there may be some legal concerns associated with working in a bar. Many people on probation for a DUI or related alcohol problems are usually banned from drinking during their probation period. In some cases, they can’t enter any establishments that serve alcohol.
If you’re in court-ordered rehabilitation under such terms, you may not be able to bartend. However, there is hope: you may be able to change the terms of your probation to allow you to work specific shifts at the bar. For example, you may be allowed to work during the day, when alcohol consumption is lower.
It’s also possible that you and your lawyer can argue a “career-based” exemption. After all, if you’ve spent 20-plus years as a bartender, you have built a lifelong career. Being banned from it would put you under undue financial stress. And voluntary attendance at a rehab center can also be used as a bargaining tool.
Does It Offer Treatment Benefits?
Actually, working as a bartender during recovery may benefit your recovery due to what is known as “Cue Exposure Therapy.” This therapy centers on regularly exposing people to their triggers to help desensitize them to their negative influence.
This treatment is an off-shoot of Exposure Therapy, which exposes phobic people to their panic triggers. Many specialists noted that the emotions during cravings mirrored panic attacks: sweatiness, a racing heart, serious agitation, paranoia, and intense fear. They theorized that intense cravings create a form of panic.
Working as a bartender exposes you to multiple drinking cues and if you can get through multiple shifts without drinking, your cravings should decrease in intensity. It is important to remember that Cue Exposure Therapy is not yet recognized by many addiction experts as a viable treatment option.
And, naturally, there is a risk that being surrounded by so many cues could trigger a relapse. However, an increasing number of studies reveal the promise of this therapy.
How Do I Stay Sober As A Bartender?
If you are dedicated to working as a bartender during your recovery, you need to master ignoring your drinking cues. This will be a major challenge on your sobriety, but if you can meet it, there’s a strong chance you can create a new sober lifestyle. A few simple tips on how to stay sober as a bartender include:
- Write your daily intentions to stay sober before each shift and read them out loud every few hours to keep them in mind
- Stay busy filling drinks, cleaning glasses, or working the floor to avoid downtime
- Work in a place that doesn’t serve your favorite types of drinks, such as winery or whiskey distillery if you prefer beer
- Avoid serving people who have bought you drinks in the past or honestly discuss your recovery with them
- Find a sober work partner who will keep you on track during your shift
These tips will give you the tools for success and should be easy enough for most people to handle. Just remember to take it one day at a time. Once you’re over the first day, aim for staying sober a week. After a week, shoot for a month. Hitting that milestone will give you an amazing feeling and inspire you to stay on track for the upcoming years in your career as a bartender.
Learn More Today
If you are interested in learning more about how working as a bartender or anything else during recovery, please contact us at DrugRehab.org today. Our friendly and informative counselors can give you the help you need to live a sober life while working in your chosen career field.