Your career is one of the most important and fulfilling aspects of your life, and there’s nothing you’d want to do to put it in jeopardy. But you’re struggling with addiction, and you don’t know how you’ll be able to go into treatment without losing everything you’ve worked so hard to earn.
Instead of trying to hide your addiction from your employers, it’s 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 you attempt to keep your addiction a secret, it may become obvious to co-workers and management that you have a problem. Showing up late to work, coming in with bags under your eyes, slacking off and not acting like your normal self are all indicators. On the flipside, if you alert your employer to your issue and let them know you want to get better, the results will be much more positive.
“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.
Working While in Rehab
Even before you let your employer know about your situation, it’s helpful to look into different treatment and rehab options. That way, you’ll know how much time you need to take off and whether you’ll be able to work from your rehab facility.
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.
Many rehabs will provide a Wi-Fi connection, as well as a private area where residents can complete their work remotely. This can be very beneficial to someone in recovery, as it gets him or her back into a routine. “In many cases, working remotely will help to ease a person back into [his or her] function as [he or she] gets further through the recovery process,” Amiri says.
Before going to rehab, make sure you check in with your manager or human resources department to see what work you can do while you’re away. As long as you’ve gone through that first stage and the rehab therapists say it’s fine to work, you should go ahead and try to resume your regular schedule.
Easing Yourself Back into Your Routine
Once you’re on the path to recovery and you’re ready to go home and go back to the office, you should discuss a plan with your therapist, says Amiri. You should also talk with your therapist about any fears or anxiety you have about going to your workplace again.
You need to be in touch with your employer to talk about your plans to return to work during this time, and prepare for how you’re going to deal with any job-related stress. You should also figure out what you’re going to say to co-workers about where you were, and determine how you’re going to deal with triggers like company dinners and business parties.
Staying Strong Post-Rehab
According to Amiri, after rehab, you need to attend at least three to five addiction recovery meetings per week, and surround yourself with supportive family and 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.”
Above all, after rehab, you should be excited about the new you and everything that you’ve accomplished. “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.”