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How to Seek Help for Addiction From Your Employer

Topics: Career Advice
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Drugs and alcohol have a profound impact on every aspect of addicts’ lives. It can be extremely difficult for an addict to function properly at work or even show up at all.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 70 percent of drug users are employed. Along with showing up late to the office, not being able to concentrate and turning in substandard work, drug and alcohol-addicted employees can experience deadly consequences. According to, 10 to 20 percent of American workers who die while on the job test positive for alcohol and drugs.

Workers may not feel comfortable confronting their problems head on with their employers, but it is necessary if they want to keep their jobs and stay safe.

If you are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and you want to ensure you can still be active in the workplace while receiving help, here are some tips you can follow.

Look Into Your Work Benefits

First, you should know where you stand with your medical, substance abuse and mental health benefits at your job, according to Dr. Rod Amiri of Prominence Treatment Center in California. You may be able to take time off to get the help you need by using these benefits.

Dr. Amiri recommended looking into Employee Assistance Programs, or EAP, which may or may not be offered by your HR department. EAPs are available in every state and provide help for employees who need workplace assistance.

“These approaches are the safest ways to seek help without fear of losing your job,” said Dr. Amiri.

Talk Confidentially With HR

Once you have looked into your benefits and EAPs, you may still have some questions. Schedule time to sit with HR personnel and determine your next course of action.

“Human Resources is responsible for managing and explaining your benefits to you—confidentially,” said Dr. Amiri. “In addition to telling you what benefits you are entitled to, they are often a great referral resource as well.”

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Ask About Your Insurance Coverage

Along with the medical, substance abuse and mental health benefits, ask your employer about your health insurance. According to Dr. Amiri, most insurance policies will cover 30 to 60 days of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment, which includes medical detox, IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) and Inpatient Residential/Partial Hospitalization Programs.

Take Time to Recover

While you are in rehab, focus on getting better, and do not worry about how your time away is going to affect your work.

“Your ‘job’ in rehab is to work full time on learning the skills you will need to stay sober once you return to the workplace,” said Dr. Amiri.

When you get back from rehab, you can enroll in local support groups, get help from an individual therapist and stay in touch with your rehab facility to ensure that you are staying on the path to recovery.

Be Discreet About Your Time Away

Remember: Your struggles can be private if you choose. You are under no obligation to reveal your addiction to your employer beyond asking for time off for medical purposes.

If someone does ask you why you took leave, you can simply say that you had a medical condition to take care of and then pivot away from the topic.

“Generally speaking, the less you say about it, the better. And if you feel the need to say something, keep it brief. If you don’t make a big deal out of the explanation, chances are others won’t either,” said Dr. Amiri.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever taken time off work to seek treatment for addiction? We want to hear from you. Share your experiences in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Legal Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, PayScale makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. If you have any concerns, consult an employment lawyer.

Kylie Ora Lobell
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