Having a job while also being addicted to drugs or alcohol is rare. The vast majority of people with an addiction are unemployed because their substance abuse stands in the way of them performing a job. But that does not mean that all addicts and alcoholics are without a job, as many people in this situation are seemingly completely functional and/or functional enough to hold on to the job that they have. If you are employed and you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you know how difficult it can be to maintain a good standing at work while you are thinking about buying and using. Your job can get much harder on the days after you have used a lot and you are experiencing a severe hangout from that use. But your job does not need to be that hard, nor does your life. There are options available for you to get the help you need so you can maintain your job and get sober at the same time. Typically, however, this involves informing your employer of what is going on. So how do you tell your employer you need to go to rehab?
Everyone wants to be considered a good employee, so the thought of having to tell your employer that you are dealing with something as serious and as stigmatized as addiction can be anxiety-provoking. But, if you need to go to rehab, this is a conversation you need to have in order to hold your job.
How to Tell Your Employer You’re Going to Rehab
There is no getting around sharing this information with your employer, especially if you are going to attend an inpatient rehab program. You can, however, talk to your employer about this in a mature way so that you can get the help you need while ensuring you have a job to return to.
Prior to speaking with your employer, take time to gather up your company handbook. In the handbook should be a section regarding leaves of absence and the company’s substance abuse policy. Make sure you are clear on what information is provided in the handbook and do not hesitate to confidentially reach out to human resources with any questions you have. While you are reading your handbook, spend some time learning about FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you need to take time off of work to go to rehab, FMLA will offer job security and will give you up to 12 weeks off. Unfortunately, FMLA is unpaid, meaning that you will not be receiving any money from your employer while you are gone. You can also research short-term disability leave, however you might encounter more challenges there as there are specific criteria for what qualifies as a disability or not. However, if you do get approved for disability leave, you can be partially compensated for the duration of your time off.
Once you gather the information you need to know what your employer’s policies are and what your legal rights are, prepare to speak with your employer. Some tips to do that effectively include the following:
- Be honest — You want to be as honest with your employer as possible regarding why you are going to rehab. You are not obligated to share details about your addiction, but you can make that choice depending on your relationship with them. If you are going to ask for time off to go to rehab, you might as well be as transparent as possible.
- Ask how you can help — If you are able, ask your employer what you can do to help ease your transition out of the office. This might include preparing documents, handing off assignments, etc. This is certainly a time of need for you, but if doing this is possible, it can help all involved.
- Ask for confidentiality — In order to receive FMLA, you do need to provide the reasoning behind your leave of absence request. FMLA protects your privacy, as employers are not allowed to disclose why you are not in the office. You can ask for confidentiality at this time, especially if you think that not many people are aware of your situation. While in rehab, you can determine how you want to share this information with others and if you even want to do so. But request confidentiality so that you have the power to tell others on your own time.
- Don’t ignore the conversation — You might be fearful of how your employer is going to respond when you tell them that you need to take a leave of absence to go to treatment. This is normal, but do not ignore this conversation. The longer you allow your addiction to continue, the worse it will become. Take control of your life by having this conversation as soon as possible.
Your addiction might be more noticeable to your co-workers and your employer than you think. Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol cannot hide every single one of their behaviors, so be prepared that others might discuss your potential reason for taking a leave of absence. While this is certainly not ideal, being aware that your addiction might not be that much of a secret can help reduce the anxiety you might otherwise feel when going back to work.
Find Help at Ohio Addiction Recovery Center
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder and need help, reach out to us right now. We understand how difficult it can be to finally obtain the treatment you need, but we can help make the process much easier.
If you avoid getting professional help, all areas of your life can start to get worse, including your career. The sooner you ask for help, the easier it will be to get back in the workforce again.
So, do not waste another day drinking or drugging while trying to keep your job. Call Ohio Addiction Recovery Center right now so you can start rehabilitating yourself. We are here to help.