Since recovery from substance addiction may take months or even years, many people experience work-related challenges during this time. Whether or not to reveal one’s history of addiction and ongoing recovery to the employer is one of them. If humility and honesty are the principles guiding you towards full recovery, then you should disclose this part of yourself. While doing so, you should also know that you have rights and there are laws protecting you against workplace discrimination.
Reasons for Disclosure
For people who have reached early sobriety and worked hard at maintaining progress, it is best to disclose your history of addiction to an employer because you might need their assistance at some point. Some workplaces have employee assistance programs helping with ongoing treatment. Sometimes you might need a longer lunch break to participate in support group meetings.
There are also certain legislations (like the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA) that require you to inform the employer about being in recovery for you to be legally protected against discrimination. For example, FMLA allows a person to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to attend to health concerns without losing employment.
From a personal accountability point of view, being honest at a new job with your employer can set the right baseline from the beginning. Holding yourself accountable to work performance while recovering can be a good motivation to work harder on your recovery progress. Many employers would appreciate such honesty and determination, which are always signs of good character in employees.
How to Talk With Your Employer
There are do’s and don’ts when you talk about your history of addiction and ongoing recovery with your boss at a new job. Most important of all, you need to make it very clear that (1) the addiction is in your past, (2) you have completed treatment, and (3) you are trying everything to stay sober from now on. Try to focus on the positive lessons you have learned during this journey of recovery. Let your employer know that you have experienced personal growth and resilience as well as additional relationship skills which can translate well into workplace performance.
Depending on the nature of your new job and the workload, you can explain your need to reduce work-related stress. Ask for a lighter load for the first few months. Find out if this job requires socializing on occasions that alcohol may be present. Tell your boss that you prefer to avoid such situations for the sake of recovery.
Meanwhile, you need to know your rights under federal non-discrimination laws when it comes to disclosing information about your addiction. This way you can be prepared to protect yourself against instances of discrimination by an employer. There are things an employer should not do. For example, your employer must keep the information you disclosed confidential from coworkers.
Dealing With Stigmatization
Many people’s impression of addiction is still tainted with stigma. This causes them to perceive recovering individuals in a negative light. If you are in recovery and choose to disclose it to your employer, you need to be prepared about potential prejudice, judgment, labeling, distrust, or even discrimination. Because such stigma in the workplace can be stressful, do not allow these behaviors to hamper your progress in recovery.
As a result of substance addiction being identified as a medical condition, you are protected from workplace discrimination under laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. You must know about these protections and how they apply to you.
Communicating With Coworkers About Your Recovery
Whether or not to disclose your recovery to coworkers is a personal choice. On the one hand, you have the right to your privacy. On the other hand, some coworkers might become your strong support if you disclose to them. When you do decide to disclose, make sure you focus on your recovery success and milestones. Share what you have learned about yourself and the new skills you have gained from this experience. With trusted coworkers, you can share what workplace situations trigger stress in you and ask for help.
People who have completed rehab treatment for addiction can be an asset to a company. They are more aware of health issues and the importance of work-life balance. They might be more conscious about fixing relationships. If they lead other coworkers with the self-care techniques learned from treatment, recovering individuals can become wellness champions at their workplace.
Do you struggle with the decision of whether or not to tell your employer about your status of recovery? Are you aware of your rights in this scenario? You can connect with a recovery community to learn how to navigate through this process. For that, you do not need to look further beyond Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, CA. Here we do everything to support working professionals, even including how to cope with workplace relationships. You can also benefit from personalized care and attention that is hard to achieve at larger facilities. We offer the most customized intervention and recovery plans that accommodate your needs. Our experienced staff help working professionals maintain a work-life-recovery balance. They will coach you on relationship skills. We are onsite 24/7 to offer you support. You can also connect with many friendly, motivated, and driven people looking to achieve and maintain sobriety while working. Call (949) 426-7962 today.