When you’ve completed rehabilitation for substance abuse disorder, it’s a major life event.
Does this mean that everyone needs to know about it? That’s totally up to you.
There are many reasons why you may need to reveal this transition, and yet other situations don’t require any explanation. You’ll have to evaluate each circumstance and determine the pros and cons of sharing your addiction story.
You Have Complete Control of the Narrative
Disclosing your problems with substance abuse and finishing an inpatient rehabilitation treatment program may prompt numerous questions from extended family members, friends, co-workers, and other people you used to see on a regular basis, such as church members or a sports team or exercise group.
The first consideration to remember is you don’t have to go into any detail about your journey to recovery unless you want to share your experience. Sometimes, people feel a tremendous burden of guilt, shame, and humiliation about their substance abuse. Legal or family trouble, extenuating circumstances, and other complications may be related to their illness.
The second thing to remember is your disclosure should never happen as a result of these negative factors. Hopefully, your choice to go through effective treatment for addiction helped you uncover catalysts for the behavior. This sparked healing, so you have no reason to feel ashamed or guilty.
Finally, another important point to remember is the motivation for sharing your story. This requires you to use the skills you gained in rehab to take ownership of your actions, and choose to reveal this characteristic of your life on your terms, not because someone’s expectations or society demand it.
Accepting accountability and forming true intimacy with people establishes the bedrock of healthy behavior. It’s from this position that you can choose—or not—to talk about your treatment and recovery. Through your newfound clarity, you can feel comfortable with a refined definition of vulnerability and tap into its strength.
Some people understand the difference between who they are as individuals and what changes the brain disease of addiction caused. With this power, they can assess which people absolutely need to know about rehab—such as the human resources manager at work—and others who must earn their trust in order to hear the story, or who may be helped once they know.
Evaluating Each Situation
Who needs to know you’ve been in rehab? Here are some possibilities.
- Your workplace. After completing treatment, it’s possible you’ll have the opportunity to return to the same job. Perhaps you’ve already collaborated with representatives from both your facility and your company to establish a smooth transition back into regular employment. There are certain federal guidelines employers have to follow to protect your rights as directed by the Department of Labor and your confidentiality. However, you may also have to abide by certain requirements and restrictions of employment contingent upon your sobriety. Be honest, forthright, and cooperative with your employer’s HR representatives. However, you’re under no obligation to talk to managers and co-workers about your leave of absence unless you feel it’s necessary.
- A potential employer. Things may get more complicated when applying for a new job after treatment. Employers have the right to ask about illicit drug use. Technically, addiction is an illness protected by the American with Disabilities Act, but usage is not. Work with the staff at your treatment facility to review these guidelines provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- Your healthcare providers. To continue your path to better wellness, it’s important to consult with your care providers about substance use, detoxification, treatment, and any continuing care plan established by the experts at the rehabilitation facility. This allows medical professionals to create a baseline for your current state of health and make note of any future issues that could relate to previous substance abuse.
- Romantic partners. If you begin a relationship with someone after you’ve completed treatment and it’s getting more serious, it might be time to talk about your addiction and treatment history. Obviously, this will be a true test of your acceptance of intimacy and how it feels to reveal that part of yourself. Stay calm, answer what questions you can—and for those you can’t, explain that you will in time, and how much you appreciate an extension of patience and understanding until that moment.
Yes, it’s possible that your history may be difficult for someone to deal with, but that’s not your concern. Your choice to disclose is a way of demonstrating your commitment to trust and honor the other person. Hopefully, those characteristics will be extended to you as well.
Willingway’s Continuing Care May Help
If you’d like to know more about how to reveal your journey and why it matters, participating in Willingway’s Continuing Care Community Groups may help. There are many cities through the Southeast with regular meeting times.
These informal community groups are open to residential facility alumni, families, and other members of the community who want to gain a better understanding of substance abuse and have access to resources that help recovery.