Should You Tell Your Boss You're in Addiction Recovery?


Deciding whether or not to disclose addiction recovery to your employer is a very sensitive topic and ultimately a personal choice that requires careful thought. You may feel compelled to be open about your recovery to show commitment to sobriety, but you may also worry about judgment or even job security. Below, we’ll explore the steps you can take to have an effective conversation about addiction treatment and recovery with your boss. 

Why You Should Tell Your Boss That You’re in Addiction Recovery

Having an open and honest conversation with your employer about your substance use disorder can help ensure that you get the support and accommodations needed to be successful. Your boss will likely be appreciative of your honesty, rather than finding out through gossip or after you’ve relapsed. 

Telling your boss about your plans for addiction treatment shows that you’re committed to your recovery and want to do well at your job. 

What to Consider Before Speaking to Your Boss

While telling your employer is recommended in most circumstances, you will want to think about how much you want to tell your direct supervisor or human resources. Consider any medical leave or schedule changes you may need, and have a plan in place for maintaining your employment in recovery while attending outpatient treatment or other forms of aftercare. 

Don’t Worry About Judgment

You shouldn’t worry about criticism or judgment from your boss, as they are required by law to keep your medical information confidential. Focus on the positives like showing your employer that you’re dedicated to your health and job performance. Demonstrating to your boss that you have a treatment plan in place will reassure them that you’re committed to your recovery.  

Come Prepared With Documentation of Medical Diagnosis

Some companies require a valid medical diagnosis before employees can secure a leave of absence, so it may be in your best interest to work with the addiction recovery

program to get documentation before you talk to your boss. This gives your employer insight into your situation and any accommodations you may need.  

Prepare Your Coworkers Or Subordinates in the Case of Your Absence

If you need to be away from work for a period of time-related to your recovery, it’s not a bad idea to let your coworkers know ahead of time so they can prepare for any workload changes. You don’t need to disclose the specifics of your diagnosis, just that you’ll be away from work for medical treatment. 

How to Approach Your Employer About Your Recovery

You may feel nervous about talking to your boss about your recovery, and that’s normal. The best way to break the news is by scheduling a private meeting and communicating directly and honestly with them. Explain to your boss that you’re currently in recovery, committed to getting help, and are still capable of performing job duties. 

Be prepared to discuss any accommodations you may need to aid in your recovery process.  

What You Shouldn’t Do When Explaining Recovery to Your Boss

When talking to your boss, don’t provide the sordid details of your past, or give the impression that you’re nostalgic about or miss using substances. Also, try to avoid talking poorly about yourself and your past mistakes. 

Instead, keep your explanations simple, and don’t divulge too many details.

Making it clear to your employer that you’re committed to staying off of drugs or alcohol can help you cope with triggers in the workplace, and go a long way in ensuring continued sobriety. 

Author Bio

Kent Reason is an editor and content specialist with Ark Behavioral Health, a substance-use treatment provider with locations in Massachusetts and Ohio. Ark offers an array of services for addiction and mental health, including multiple levels of care and evidence-based treatment options. 

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