Addiction On The Job
Drug addiction is a disease that takes over every aspect of life, from relationships and home life to job performance and career. Struggling with addiction, while also trying to maintain a position at work is a big challenge. You probably have many concerns and questions: Do my coworkers and my boss know? If I take time off for treatment will I lose my job? What about drug testing at work? Getting care for your addiction and getting well should be your top priority. However, you should also consider how it may impact your job.
Does Everyone At Work Know About My Addiction?
It is not unusual to feel ashamed or embarrassed about having a substance abuse problem. You probably want to keep your addiction a secret from your coworkers and your boss, but the signs might be obvious. While many addicts are good at hiding their problem, there is a real possibility that everyone does know, or at least suspects.
If you have been actively trying to hide your addiction, this should be a red flag that you really do have a problem and need to seek treatment. It may be embarrassing to admit to your struggle, but your health and well-being are more important. If you haven’t yet sought help, consider inquiring with your company’s human resources department about an employee assistance program (EAP). If there is an EAP available, you can use it to get confidential help and resources for addiction treatment.
How Can I Face Going Back To Work After Rehab?
Getting help is your first step toward the rest of your life in sobriety. Making use of your company’s EAP you can find addiction treatment that works for you. You may even be able to attend outpatient treatment in the evenings and on weekends and not miss work. It is important that you understand your limits, though. If you are unable to resist the urge to keep using, you may need to go to a residential rehab facility.
If you are worried about being discriminated against because of your addiction, know your rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not protect you if you are still abusing illegal substances. However, if you are no longer using and are seeking treatment, you cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. Addiction is a disease and as long as you are getting treated for it, you cannot be punished at work.
While you may not be discriminated against officially, you may still feel that you are being subtly mistreated when you return to work after completing addiction treatment. You may feel stigmatized by your coworkers or feel that they no longer trust you or that they are excluding you. Sometimes these behaviors result from a genuine ignorance, as your coworkers may not have any experience with addiction. If you feel comfortable doing so, offer to discuss the situation with a curious coworker. This may help your reintegration into the workplace.
Another issue with going back to work is the possibility of relapsing. Going back to the job can be stressful and turning to drugs is your natural response to stress. Before returning to the workplace, be sure you are ready and have a plan in place for resisting the urge to use again. This may mean having loved ones ready to support you when you feel like using or having a support group to attend. The most important thing is your health. Work is important too, but you won’t be able to do your job fully until you have taken care of yourself and your recovery.
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