Maintaining professional employment while in the clutches of addiction is challenging. You may have even already lost at least one position because of the consequences of your disease. Addiction can affect your job and workplace performance in many ways:
- It can lead to being late or missing work.
- You may be constantly tired when at work.
- Your decision-making ability could be affected.
- It may be difficult to think about work when you are thinking instead of getting high.
- If other people have noticed what is going on with you, you may be dealing with conflicts with co-workers or supervisors.
- You may even be dealing with the repercussions of illegal activity, such as stealing from work or getting a DUI.
Protect Yourself — But Ask for Help
If you need help, you probably aren’t really hiding it anyway. Be honest with your supervisors and let them know the truth about what’s happening. You are dealing with a disease, and you can be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If your employer retaliates against you or punishes you for seeking treatment for a disease, you can sue for discrimination.
Schedule a meeting so you can speak with your supervisor in confidence. Not everyone needs to know the details of what is happening. Your work insurance probably covers treatment, and there may even be additional programs or support groups available to you as a working professional dealing with addiction.
The Stigma of Addiction
One of the hardest parts of getting help as a working professional in dealing with the stigma. As a professional, you are expected to keep up a front where you look and act a certain way. You already know that you have probably failed to maintain decorum at all times and that people might be talking about you.
Unlike with other diseases, stigma is an important part of why people don’t seek help and then why they have trouble going back to work after recovery. If you returned back to work after a long illness or injury, you would probably get sympathy and offers of assistance. Most people honestly don’t know how to react to the co-worker just coming back from addiction treatment.
The guilt, fear, and shame the addict feels when he or she is going back into the workplace may seem overwhelming. It is impossible to know what prejudices people have because of their own misconceptions about addiction.
Missing Work for Addiction Treatment
You may not be able to take off for the amount of time you need to go away for treatment. If you have additional family responsibilities or other reasons you can’t stay, you might need to try outpatient treatment at a local facility.
If you need inpatient treatment, you are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act so you can miss work without being penalized. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will also help you to get the time off you need.
Suiting Up and Showing Up
Once you return from treatment, it will be especially hard to face everyone. You will feel different at first, making you even more self-conscious. The best cure for those feelings is just to show up every day. You will find that, as in so many other instances, people don’t really think of you that much.
Once you start proving that you are back and doing your job, you will become more and more comfortable with your routine. You can start integrating your new recovery principles into your work life. You may even be able to find other support groups for specialized professions, such as lawyers or healthcare providers, so you can speak with others who are dealing with the kinds of issues.
Start Your Path to Recovery
At Multi Concept Recovery, we understand how difficult it can be for anyone to finally admit they need help. When you are a working professional, you also have to deal with the stigma and with not being able to leave your other responsibilities. That is why we offer a customized approach to recovery, so we can help you deal with your unique issues on your path to long-term recovery.
If you or a loved one needs help with addiction, don’t wait. We are here waiting to help you.