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17967 – How to Speak to Your Employer about Addiction

10/25/2017
If you have recently returned to work after attending a rehabilitation program, or are beginning a new position, it is important that your employer understands the position you are currently in (if you feel comfortable speaking to them about it). Not only will having a discussion with your employer about your addiction help you understand your employment rights, but it will help them understand you a bit better. Read on to learn a few helpful tips when speaking to your employer about your previous or ongoing addiction.

Seek out HR or an Informed Manager

If your company has a human resources department, this is a good place to start. However, if your manager is well-informed on the company’s policies and procedures, he or she can work, too. It is important that you are comfortable speaking to this person, and can open up about where you stand with your addiction. Once you have selected the member of staff who you feel you can speak to about your addiction, jot down the topics you wish to cover in your meetings. Are you worried that you may not be able to make your support group meetings if you leave at 6:00, and are wondering if the company allows flexible work hours? Maybe you want to make sure it is acceptable to step out of the office in order to take calls from your sponsor. Think about all the little issues that may arise, and go into the meeting prepared to discuss all of them.

Company Policy and Employee Rights

Make sure that you and your employer discuss the company policies and employee rights regarding addiction during your meeting. Although companies have no legal requirement to implement alcohol and drug policies, or pay towards the treatment and aftercare of an employee suffering with addiction, employment protection laws do exist for those struggling with addiction. Before meeting with your employer, ask for the employee handbook and go over it in depth. Come to the meeting with any questions you may have after looking through the handbook.

Problems to Address

This meeting is about more than what your employer will expect of you, it is also about what you expect of them. Make your employer aware, for example, that company events which provide alcohol could be tricky for you to attend. Think of any other accommodations or triggers that they should be made aware of, and be sure to come up with a plan if another co-worker is not sensitive to your specific needs.

Do Not Fear Judgment

Seeking help for handling your addiction is a very courageous thing to do. Do not hold back on what should be addressed - discussing your addiction and any accommodations you may require from your employer can make a more comfortable transition back into work after rehab. Contrary to what you may believe, majority of recovering addicts often find a great amount of support from their employer once they are made aware of the situation. For additional support and advice after rehab, contact Destination Hope and ask about the aftercare programs we offer. Our professional and friendly members of staff can be reached at 866-756-4673.