Glass of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs on table.

Making the decision to seek out substance abuse treatment is a difficult one to make, but the reward is always worth it. Navigating the world of addiction treatment and rehab can feel overwhelming at times. While telling your friends and loved ones what you’re going through can typically be done in confidence, you may not be so sure about being honest with your boss about your upcoming treatment.

It’s Always Best To Be Honest

There’s no denying that opening up about attending drug rehab takes a lot of courage as you may worry about what your coworkers will think of you. Thankfully, what they think doesn’t matter as you’re taking the steps towards recovery and a better life. Remember this when the time comes to meet with your employer and let them know you’ll be attending a substance abuse treatment program.

That’s right, you’ll have to talk to your boss about the existence of a drug abuse problem and how treatment will impact your work. Don’t worry though, addiction is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act meaning you can’t be fired or retaliated against for your battle with addiction. The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, also provides you with unpaid time off work for up to 12 weeks while keeping your position.

These legal protections were put in place to make treatment accessible for those of us suffering from substance abuse problems without losing progress in our careers. Your human resources department may even have its own team for helping you prepare the FMLA paperwork for your doctor or rehab center to complete and return.

How To Make the Conversation Easy

For conversations involving addiction, it’s best to practice what you plan to say to your employer. This can range from an opening script to bullet points of topics you want to make sure you touch on throughout the discussion. It’s also a good idea to review your employer’s drug use policy to understand the actions that could be taken should you continue to use drugs after or during treatment.

To take some of the pressure off of you during the meeting, focus the topic of discussion on the fact that you are attending rehab in order to end drug use and recover from addiction. Your boss will appreciate that you’re working towards a better self as this translates into better morale and job performance at work. Coworkers will likely have some familiarity with addiction and should understand it requires medical treatment just as any other condition would.

Regardless of what others think of your treatment, you have guaranteed rights that protect you through FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act. No punishment, retaliation or termination can happen due to you seeking addiction treatment. Don’t let your employer attempt to convince you work is more important or that you’ll face negative consequences for going to rehab.

Help Them Prepare for Your Absence

Even if telling your employer about your treatment wasn’t required, it would still be the considerate thing to do for both you and your coworkers. The last thing you want to return to after a successful treatment is a backlog of work creating undue stress. Work with your direct supervisor to split up your responsibilities within your team to make the transition back into your job as seamless as possible.

At the end of the day, each of these steps is meant to help keep an open dialogue between you and your employer so that you can leverage the protections and rights you have. Employers that truly care about their employees will be happy to help facilitate your recovery however they can.

If you have any questions or concerns about how to talk to your employer, we encourage you to reach out to our compassionate recovery team today! America’s Rehab Campus has worked with hundreds of employers throughout Arizona to make sure our guests can leave work behind and focus solely on healing and growth.