Talking To Your Boss About Addiction

Admitting you’re battling an addiction and need help isn’t easy. If you’re in this situation, it’s not uncommon to delay getting help because you don’t feel like it’s the right time. Maybe you’re working on a big project at work and don’t want to let your team down. Maybe your team at work runs lean and if you take a leave of absence, you feel like you’re screwing them over. While it’s admirable you don’t want to let anyone down, addiction develops steadily over time and only worsens as the days go by. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the worse your addiction will get. 

With the right environment, treatment program, and support system, you’ll be able to treat your substance abuse appropriately and start to build a healthy, drug-free life.  If you’re working while dealing with drug addiction, know you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 70 percent of adult substance abusers (ages 18 and older) are employed either part or full time.

At Rise in Malibu, we know how difficult it can be fitting addiction treatment into your everyday life, especially if you’re employed. It’s important to be reliable but it’s even more important to get healthy. We’re here to offer some tips on how to let your boss know you’re struggling with addiction so you have one less thing to worry about while you’re seeking treatment. 

Should I Say Something?

You’re probably apprehensive about talking to your boss about addiction treatment. In fact, you’re probably scared that you may be judged or are fearful that you may even lose your job. These feelings are perfectly normal. However, not disclosing your addiction to your boss can cause problems. For example, if you’re planning to check in to an in-patient treatment program, you’ll be taking a leave of absence from work for an extended period of time. Laws have been put in place that prohibits you from being fired for seeking drug or alcohol addiction treatment, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, so you don’t have to be fearful about taking the time off. 

If you aren’t planning on completing inpatient treatment, you may still have to take some time off to do a medical detoxification. Detox isn’t necessary for all addictions but if you’re addicted to alcohol, medical detox is strongly recommended. This period of time can be unpredictable, and your detox symptoms could range from mildly uncomfortable to extreme and practically unbearable. If you don’t feel comfortable explaining this to your boss, you’re allowed to ask for a leave of absence with an alternative reason or use your accrued vacation time. 

How do I Approach the Situation?

We know explaining your situation to your boss is easier said than done. So how’s the best to go about the conversation? We suggest asking to speak with your boss privately at a time that’s convenient for the both of you. Maybe ask to speak early in the morning before everyone else arrives at the office. You’ll probably feel more comfortable knowing other people aren’t around. 

If you anticipate being nervous during the conversation, feel free to write down what you want to say on a piece of paper and bring it to the meeting with you. The conversation is about you so you’re allowed to structure it the way you want too. It will be important to note if you need to take time off from work or if you’ll need to leave early certain days to complete therapy sessions. 

What to say

Unfortunately, there’s no technical right or wrong way to go about the conversation, so the best advice we can offer is to say whatever you feel comfortable saying. Some people have personal relationships with their boss and won’t mind going into detail. Some people have strictly professional relationships and want to keep it that way. Either is completely fine.  Don’t feel obligated to share all of the details about your drug abuse or the treatment you’re seeking, but you don’t have to hold back either. 

The truth is, drug abuse seldom goes unnoticed by the people you’re around on a regular basis. There’s a good chance that your coworkers or even your boss already suspected you’re going through something. In many cases, your boss will be happy to hear you’re seeking help. They’ll also be happy you feel comfortable enough to confide in them. 

Let Us Help You

Even though addiction treatment can seem scary, it’s important to remember you are not alone. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Rise in Malibu for more information about your employment rights or talking to your boss about addiction treatment. 

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