Content reviewed by Khelsea Walker

One of the most challenging aspects of recovery from substance use is recognizing your personal need for change. After making the decision to participate in drug rehab, there are still several obstacles you may need to address.

First, know that your decision to go to rehab is worth celebrating. At this point, you understand that sticking with the path you are on will only sink you deeper into the pit of addiction. There will be many lifestyle changes you will have to make during your recovery journey, especially as you transition back to life outside of treatment.

One common obstacle many individuals face prior to entering treatment is determining how to navigate rehab around their career. If you are reading this, you are likely struggling with this as well. The good news is, despite how challenging it may be to tell your boss about your struggles and why you need time away, there are ways to prepare for this conversation. Additionally, there are ways to prepare for work leave so that you do not feel as daunted by the thought of work post-treatment.

Should You Tell Your Boss About Going to Addiction Rehab?

One of the biggest questions you may be asking yourself is if it’s worth it to tell your boss about your plan to go to rehab. Several things may keep you from revealing the truth, particularly if your workplace stigmatizes individuals who struggle with addiction or other mental health disorders. Additionally, you may be unaware of your company’s policies pertaining to drug and alcohol use or leaves of absence. To help answer these questions, research your company’s policies in these circumstances. This may require reaching out to the human resources department for the employee handbook.

Fortunately, there are laws in place to protect individuals who struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) from workplace discrimination. If you are beginning your recovery journey, you have some protection from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, you may qualify for 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to attend addiction rehab.

As far as deciding to tell your boss about rehab goes, understand that addiction treatment will emphasize the importance of honesty and owning up to past mistakes. You do not have to expound upon your struggles with your boss. However, you may have to tell them about your circumstances if you will require an absence from work for a time. On the other hand, if you are beginning outpatient treatment that will not interfere with your ability to perform at work, you may not necessarily need to share your struggles.

Having the Conversation About Going to Rehab With Your Boss

While initiating the conversation with your boss may be intimidating, do it sooner rather than later. After you research and understand your employee rights, it may help to speak with a therapist or recovery professional to prepare for the conversation. Professionals in the recovery field will help you navigate additional concerns, such as how to afford treatment and whether your insurance will cover any of it.

When speaking with your boss, here are some things to consider:

#1 Do not fear judgment.

Your substance use has likely interfered with your ability to perform well at work. However, that does not mean that you are not worthy or capable of healing. When speaking with your boss, emphasize your willingness to go to treatment so you can perform better at work. Do not worry about any judgment or backlash you may receive. Remember to have compassion for others who may struggle with substance use in the future.

#2 Offer preparations for your leave.

If you expect to return to work after you complete rehab, you should ensure that you have all loose ends tied up with your job role. You may want to prepare others for your leave as well, such as co-workers or apprentices.

#3 Be prepared with a medical diagnosis or rehab referral.

It is not abnormal for companies to require valid medical diagnoses to verify the severity of your condition. Work with your potential treatment center to get the documentation needed to secure your leave of absence.

Evaluating Your Work Life Before Attending Addiction Treatment

Throughout treatment, you may be asked to evaluate different circumstances in your life that have led you to use alcohol and other drugs. You must work to overcome the underlying root causes of your substance use to maintain long-lasting sobriety. This might involve evaluating your career life, especially if it increases your stress and anxiety levels.

In this case, you may need to make requests to your employer upon returning to work so that work does not increase your potential for relapse. If your employer is not understanding or compassionate about your plight, you may need to consider a job change. Fortunately, treatment centers can advise you on local career opportunities and alternative resources to help you find a stable — and healthy — career that will complement your sobriety.

New Hope Ranch is a men’s-only addiction treatment facility that understands the challenges that rehab can pose with one’s career life. We treat men of all different work backgrounds, including first responders and veterans. Our staff can help you work through your employer policies and insurance coverage as well. To learn more, call (737) 600-8565.