If you’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, know that you’re not alone. Every year, millions of Americans seek treatment for substance abuse. However, that fact can be of little comfort when you’re faced with the task of having a one-on-one talk with your employer about needing to go into rehab. Because treatment is so vital for recovery, it’s a conversation you need to have. Fortunately, there are tactics you can use to help you feel as prepared and comfortable as possible when you approach your employer.

It’s also important you’re fully aware of the federal laws and policies that are in place to help protect your rights as a worker. The right knowledge can give you the courage to talk to your employer about going into rehab. From who to talk to at your organization to what to say, these tips and insights will empower you to speak with your employer about getting you the help you need.


Your Employer Wants You To Get Help


The idea of talking to your employer about going into rehab is likely intimidating. Admitting your social millennial drinking habit has gotten out of hand isn’t easy. Going into the conversation, the fact that seeking treatment will benefit your employer as well as you should alleviate some of your anxiety.

According to Psychology Today contributor Dr. John F. Kelly, alcohol and other drug use problems cost the U.S. economy approximately $600 billion each year. Despite drugs and alcohol triggering dopamine which makes users feel good, their abuse has bad consequences for addicts and the organizations that employ them. From missed work and high turnover rates to diminished quality, substance abuse issues result in lost productivity and hurt companies’ bottom lines.

In addition to negatively impacting your job attendance and performance, your substance abuse issue could be putting your fellow employees at risk. In their report for the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Rebecca S. Spicer, Ted R. Miller and Gordon S. Smith found that alcohol and drug use increases the number of occupational injuries and fatalities.

It’s your employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe work environment for you and your colleagues. Coming forward with your addiction helps them to fulfill this obligation, and they will likely be grateful for your honesty.


Who To Talk To At Your Organization


Due to the stigma and shame surrounding substance abuse, many people put off getting help as their work performance declines. Rather than waiting until the situation gets to the point where your employer confronts you, you should be proactive and talk to your employer about going to rehab.

If the possibility of losing your job is holding you back from having this important conversation, know that there are federal laws and policies in place to protect you. Most notably, the Americans With Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act of 1973 recognize alcohol and drug addiction as a disability and prohibits discrimination based upon it.

Before talking to your employer, you should have a plan in place for disclosing your situation. A good place to start is contacting Human Resources to see if your organization has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs support addiction treatment and might be able to point you in the direction of additional services such as confidential assessment and short-term counseling. They may even know of social workers who specialize in addiction recovery.


What To Say To Your Employer


When it comes time to talk to your employer or manager, you should schedule a specific time to have a face-to-face conversation. As tempting as it may be to just send an email, this is a conversation you should have in person. If you’re concerned about privacy, consider requesting to have the meeting at an offsite location.

Since you might have trouble finding the right words during the meeting, it’s okay to prepare notes beforehand. Speak from your heart, but keep in mind that you don’t need to share all the details with your employer. You can talk about how going to rehab will make you a better employee, but be careful to avoid getting into any illicit activities that may have occurred while at work.

While any information you share with your employer regarding your health should be confidential, it doesn’t hurt to remind them. To further protect yourself, you should ask that a human resource manager is present. Talking to your employer about going into rehab is a difficult conversation to have, but it’s an important first step to getting the help you need. Having a plan in place for where, when, and how you will approach your employer will give you the courage necessary to do so.

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About Beau Peters

Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. You can follow Beau Peters on Twitter.

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