When to Tell Your Boss, Friends, and New Love Interests About Your Substance Use Disorder
A Fresh Start
You’ve made it through detox and are working to rediscover yourself in recovery. Now is the time to start creating new relationships and forming better bonds with the people in your life.
When should you tell others about your substance use disorder? How do you let someone in on one of the most vulnerable aspects of your life? The short answer is to handle every situation on its own merit.
Telling Your Boss About Your Addiction
If you’ve battled alcohol or drug addiction, you know that it changed who you are and how you did your job. Most often, employers know something is “off” with their employees. It may not be too hard for them to pinpoint what that is based on your mannerisms. Here are a few key things to think about:
- Before Rehab: Asking for the FMLA, a type of medical leave that protects your job when you get addiction treatment, is the first step. The second is to have a frank discussion with your employer about what is happening. Stress that you are doing your best to make improvements.
- After Rehab: If they don’t know about your addiction, during rehab, you may want to bring up the topic with your employer. You may not legally need to, but providing some insight into what your plan for recovery is can help your employer know how to help you. A frank discussion with your HR team may be all that you need.
Telling your employer about your addiction isn’t easy to do, but most want to provide you with help. Once you request FMLA, your job is protected for at least 12 weeks, making this the ideal time to get help. Yet, if you are managing your job well and not facing difficulties, you may not need to take time off. In this case, don’t feel that you have to share before you are ready to do so.
Talking to Friends About Your Addiction
Your friends are there to help you, or at least they should be. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them about your addiction, take a moment to inquire why this is. Do your friends also use the same substances? In this case, you may need to create a formal break from those relationships so you can heal. Are you worried they will judge you? That’s not uncommon, but true friends should show support.
- Before Rehab: Reaching out to a close friend may be ideal before rehab. They may be able to offer some support and guidance to you during the recovery process. At the very least, they should be able to listen. Still, there’s no obligation for you to share this information.
- After Rehab: During recovery, you may need to take on these relationships with a bit more determination. If they cannot support you, cannot encourage you to stay clean, or encourage you to use, you simply have to remove them from your life.
The same applies to family. There’s no obligation for you to tell anyone of your addiction. If you do, be sure to share only what you feel you need to. For close family, realize they may find it hard to deal with the consequences of your actions, but they should be willing to support your efforts. Again, if they cannot, question why you plan to remain in those relationships.
What About a New Relationship?
Maybe you’ve met someone you really enjoy spending time with right now. Whether it is a new friend or someone you hope to take beyond a friendship level, it’s hard to find a balance here. You need to be honest and show them who you really are. At the same time, this is a vulnerable spot for some people. You don’t want to be judged and potentially lose that relationship.
Focus on you. When you are trying to decide when to tell someone, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you feel guilty not telling this person? If so, that’s a clear indication that you should.
- Do you feel like they will judge you and not want to be in your life? If so, they may not be worth your time.
- Do you feel comfortable talking about your addiction and recovery? If you need help, work with your counselor to get more insight.
You’re in Control
When you work with our drug and alcohol treatment center in Lafayette, Louisiana, you’ll gain insight and tools to help you talk about this subject with anyone. Just remember, this is your journey towards recovery and one that you control.
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