When it comes to talking to your employer about having an addiction or substance abuse problem, it can be hard to imagine the conversation going well. Often, employees are afraid to reveal their addiction to fear of being terminated from the company or being subject to harsh judgment by their boss. Fortunately, that’s not always the case, and many employers have programs that assist employees struggling with addiction.
Before you speak to your employer about your addiction, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind. It’s unwise to go into the conversation without having prepared for the hard questions, and even tougher decisions that will follow this conversation. There are a variety of resources available, such as your company’s drug and alcohol policy or health care policy, that can provide crucial insight into the specific benefits that employees receive, so you can be well informed going into the discussion.
Prepare for the Conversation
As many people know, revealing that you have an addiction to someone else can be a moment of uncertainty and hesitation. Employees fear that their employer will judge them for having a “flaw”, and fear the consequences for revealing their secret. It’s important to consider the fact that you aren’t the only person to ever need help, and it’s possible that your employer has experience and valuable knowledge about the options available to you.
Although it is possible to lose your job by revealing your addiction, there are ways that employees can be protected. Research which rights you have as an employee to better prepare yourself for the discussion and what resources are available to you.
Know that it is for the Best
It is never appealing to enter into a conversation that reflects poorly on oneself, especially to an employer. However, despite its difficulties, it is often for the best. Allowing an addiction to be prolonged because you’re afraid to bring something up can be damaging and cause your relationship with your employer to diminish over time.
As it is well known that addiction may affect your work performance and ability to function at peak performance, your employer may already sense that something is off-kilter.
When you’re struggling through an addiction, it can be hard to focus, produce high-quality work, and depending on your line of work, it may be bordering on dangerous because you can also be risking an injury for yourself or someone else or more likely to make a critical mistake. However, regardless of your line of work, whether you’re working for a construction company or you’re a customer service representative, losing focus can be seriously detrimental and can cause you to risk losing your employment.
Many times, employers offer benefits to employees that are struggling with addiction for a variety of reasons. Not only do these benefits help employees recover from their addictions and improve their lives, but they also benefit the company.
According to “An Employer’s Guide to Workplace Substance Abuse,” published by the National Business Group on Health, “67% of the HR professionals surveyed believe that substance abuse/addiction is one of the most serious issues they face in their company.” Due to this epidemic, companies have begun to increase their funding of employee benefits and offer a series of helpful resources to employees.
For example, FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act, provides several rights to employees that require an extended absence in the workplace. One of the options that are available to employees through FMLA is the ability to participate in rehabilitation while a position in the company is held for them. It’s essential to take advantage of benefits such as FMLA if your employer offers them because you may already be paying for them!
Although navigating the conversation about addiction with your boss can be challenging, it’s better to voice your situation rather than to hide it and risk suffering the consequences later on.
Remember that the process of healing isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but caring for yourself and your future is always the right thing to do.
Learn more about the journey to recovery and how to get there today.