One aspect of living with an addiction is living in denial.
Most people battling an addiction did not go from having a few drinks now and again, or getting high once in a while, to a full-blown addiction overnight. It was progressive, sneaking up slowly until it became a problem. Even when our addiction starts to be detrimental to all aspects of our life, we may still deny that there is a problem. When the time comes that we are ready to face our addiction, we are faced with decisions about who we should tell.
If you are thinking of going into a residential drug treatment center, , you will have to offer some explanation to your employer. If you have enough vacation time built up, you can request that time without revealing your plans to enter treatment. Otherwise, you will probably have to talk with your employer about taking a medical leave of absence. Whether you relate the reason for this absence is up to you, but it may prove difficult to have that conversation without revealing the situation.
Here are some things to consider before approaching your boss.
- Anyone who has spent time with you probably already knows that you have a problem. We may think that we are good at hiding our addiction, but others that we see on a daily basis can see that something is not right. Your employer may already suspect a problem.
- If you are worried that you may be fired, some laws are in place to help protect you. The Americans with Disabilities Act considers chemical dependency is a valid disability. While you can be fired for using at work or for causing unsafe conditions, you cannot be fired for entering rehab.
- Depending on your type of employment, the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) may apply to your situation. According to the law, employers who meet certain conditions must make accommodations for those entering rehab and hold your position for you.
- By law, employers must maintain confidentiality regarding any information they receive regarding the addiction or substance abuse treatment of any of their employees.
Now that you know some of your rights, muster up the courage to have that talk with your boss. Be honest and keep the conversation professional. Explain that you want to get help so that you can be a more effective employee. Changing our lives can be scary. If your job has not been a stressor for using, then keeping your job is important. Do some research to find out your rights and what your insurance covers. When the time comes for disclosing that you are battling an addiction, it is best to have your information at hand and a plan of action for recovery.