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Talking To Your Boss About Addiction

In our field, we come across many “functional addicts.” This, of course, describes people who are battling a substance abuse or alcohol issue, but also manage to hold down a regular job and hide their problem. Well, truth be told, every dependency has a breaking point and there almost always comes a day when your employer will learn the full story. But what is the right way to handle that? And how can someone discuss an issue like this with their superior at work?

The website recently addressed this very relevant topic, emphasizing the fear and anxiety that surround an addiction conversation at the workplace. But the fact is, more than 70 percent of users are currently employed (making it a very common occurrence).

Sadly, those feelings of guilt and shame actually hold people back from getting the treatment they need. The real fear being, if they reveal their dependency there is a chance that they will lose their job.

The Quartz article offers some helpful tips on how to approach this situation. One recommendation is having an open conversation with someone who has gone through this before. Recovery facilities (such as VRC) often have alumni networks, where those who have gone through treatment can share their experiences. Getting support from a person who has been through a similar situation is critical.

It is also advised to do a little homework on your company’s employment policies. There are risks of termination if you are caught using on the job. But if you have an addiction issue and it has not impeded your workplace performance, you most certainly have rights. In fact, most big companies allow for treatment sabbaticals, where you can take an extended leave to get clean.

Honesty is also highly recommended when it comes time to have the boss conversation. Trying to cover up your problem or hide the seriousness of it can often work against you. You want to build trust in your work environment and making an open-hearted confession is a good way to do that.

And, on a final note, Quartz advises to have confidence during your conversation. Addiction is a disease and not something you should be ashamed of. Holding your head high, confidently assuring you’ll get the help you need and promising a dedicated return to form are all great tactics.

Don’t let fear in the workplace hold you back from getting the help you need.