If you’ve reached a point with your substance use disorder where you recognize the need to do something about it, you have a lot of decisions to make. Whether to go to an inpatient or outpatient treatment center, what facility to choose, how to deal with finances and other responsibilities in the meantime – it might seem overwhelming. If you’re currently employed, another concern you might have is how to speak to your employer about your substance abuse. Obviously, you have to tell them something if you’re going to be gone for a while, but how much detail do you owe them? How do you even start that conversation?
First, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s a tall order, but you have to remember that you are by no means alone in your struggle. Having a problem doesn’t make you weak or lesser; in fact, being able to acknowledge it is a sign of strength.
Go into the discussion with a plan. If you decide to wing it, you might get tripped up by nerves and say things you don’t mean to or forget important points you were going to make. Depending on the sort of work you do, you might need to have someone take over for you while you’re gone, and you’ll need to discuss whether you have to train someone, how long that might take, and how certain it is that you’ll get your place back.
If you aren’t planning on going into residential treatment, some companies offer an employee assistance program (EAP), which is a confidential workplace program, which is paid for by the employer and helps employees deal with everything from drug use to relationship problems. Look into whether your company offers this type of program before you make any other plans.
Choose the right time. Schedule a meeting in advance, so that you can be sure you aren’t interrupting anything and your boss is less likely to already be upset about something. You might want to involve someone from human resources in addition to your employer, but otherwise the meeting should be confidential. Addiction is a medical problem, and you’re no more obligated to announce it to everyone than you would be to reveal you have diabetes.
If your work has been suffering, let them know that you’re aware of it. Don’t try to make excuses, just express remorse and acknowledge that you’ve made mistakes, and assure your employer that you’re serious about fixing them.
You should also consider the possibility that this job isn’t right for you anymore. Does it leave you with long hours and weekends at the office and no time to decompress? Is your boss or one of your coworkers so difficult that you dread seeing them every day? If so, it’s possible that all of that negativity led to or at least worsened your substance abuse, and you might be better off looking elsewhere.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.