Recovery is a process that takes time, and a commitment to maintaining sobriety. However, it is not an easy road to travel especially if you work a full-time job as telling your employer could cause you problems in the workplace. It is important to tell the truth, says Dr. Rod Amiri, an addiction specialist with Malibu Hills Treatment Center, a recovery center in Southern California. “You should address the nature and severity of your addiction,” Amiri says. “This can be very difficult and uncomfortable, but being honest about your condition is a very important step to getting the help you need.”
If your career is important to you, revealing that you are struggling with a substance abuse problem or addiction to anyone in the workplace could be dangerous. So, if you show up late to work because you attended a late 12-step meeting like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), your co-workers may ask what happened, and you may want to tell them about your recovery treatment but then on the flipside, if you tell them it could mean that the information may get back to your employer, and pose a risk to your income. If you try to keep the fact that you are in recovery a secret, it may become obvious to your employer regardless and then break down the trust in the relationship.
“Typically speaking, employers will appreciate your honesty and are much more willing to work with someone who seeks help, especially when it can affect the quality of their work, productivity and safety of their employees,” Amiri says.
Maintaining Sobriety in the Workplace
Before you decide to talk to you boss about addiction, you need to remember that they will want what is best for you, and for the company. So, prepare yourself before the discussion with your employer about substance abuse with some rehab options. If they are open to allowing you to address the problem as a legitimate health concern, you may need to explain to them that you are already ready to start your treatment, and show them the programs you plan to participate in.
Then, if your employer grants you time off you may be able to even continue working for them during an inpatient rehab program. Otherwise, you will have to continue to attend 12-step program meetings while also showing up onsite to the workplace.
Either way, talking openly to your boss about a substance abuse problem, or recovery treatment plan is a good idea. In the first stages of recovery, Amiri says it’s crucial to take the time to detox and focus only on getting healthy. After you’re past that point, you may be able to work out of the rehab and still keep up with daily tasks. So, honesty is the best policy if you want to freely take the time to really focus on your treatment.
Staying Strong in Recovery
If your employer allows you to take part in an inpatient rehabilitation program, or even if you do an outpatient rehab, entering the “real world,” again may be difficult. After all, a newly sober person may not have the strength to turn down all of the temptations to relapse especially without any support.
According to Amiri, after rehab, you need to attend at least three to five addiction recovery meetings per week, and surround yourself with supportive people like your family and closest friends. “Make every effort to build a strong support group,” he says. “This includes people you have met through the treatment programs who clearly understand your issues.”
Just remember, above everything else that you must take your sobriety one day at a time. “Always celebrate your sobriety,” Amiri says. “Be proud of every milestone you achieve. Again, honesty and open communications will help your lifetime journey in recovery.”
A Final Note on Addiction Recovery in the Workplace
Addiction recovery in the workplace is possible! So, never fear talking openly to your boss about treating addiction like a disease. Just like any other illness, addiction must be addressed properly in order to heal and your employer may already have options in place for you to handle this type of health concern. Talk to your employer if you feel like you need to cope with substance abuse, or any other job-related stress. They can help you determine the best way to handle triggers of relapse including company parties, and business dinners more easily.