If you’ve received treatment for an addiction, you might end up going back to the same job and workplace you left. This can create some stressful situations you should prepare for in advance.
By knowing what to expect, you can control your environment and make a smoother transition back to work. You will be able to re-enter the workforce without the same stresses and triggers you used to encounter.
There is one fact you should keep in mind throughout the process of returning to work. You have the right to remain anonymous. The law protects your privacy, so it is totally up to you to decide what information you are comfortable divulging. The decision is 100% in your hands.
In fact, you don’t even need to tell your employer you were in recovery if you aren’t comfortable doing so. The reason why is that the Family and Medical Leave Act protects you. If you have a proper diagnosis from a doctor, you don’t need to give specific details to anyone regarding your absence.
You are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which bans discrimination against people with disabilities, including addicts. So if you are concerned with maintaining your clean and sober lifestyle, you don’t need to be stressed about what others might think of you. Their opinions won’t even an issue if you choose not to talk about your addiction and subsequent recovery.
Personal Tips from Per Wickstrom
As a recovering addict himself, Per Wickstrom understands the pressures you will be facing when you return to your job. You will likely have been gone for a period of four or more weeks. It is only natural that your coworkers will want to know where you’ve been for all that time. Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it is also a human condition.
It’s up to you how you choose to handle the questions of others. But there is one bit of advice Per would like to share. He knows that it is easy for many people to make up a story about a sick, long-lost relative who needed your assistance. But what if today you say you visited an uncle and next week you forget you said that? What if you accidentally say you visited your aunt?
You have every right to remain anonymous, but Per reminds you that if you tell a lie, you might lie yourself into a trap that you can’t get out of gracefully. Also, most recovering addicts who have spent some time in rehab are comfortable talking about their own personal journeys. They know addiction recovery no longer carries the stigma it once did.
With so many addicts in the world, it is not unusual for someone to have been a substance abuser or alcoholic. Per says, “Do what is comfortable for you. If you are concerned that a lie could come back to haunt you, then tell your coworkers where you’ve been. If not, that long-lost relative story just might work.”
Remember You Are a New Person with New Skills
One other bit of useful advice that Per wants you to remember is that you might be the same person in outward appearance, but inside you are a new, clean and sober you. You need to take what you’ve learned from your recovery program and implement it on the job. People have undoubtedly taught you ways to deal with stressful situations, so put them into practice now.
Prior to re-entering the workplace, your goal is to understand that you will face the same challenges and issues you faced before you went to rehab. Only this time around, to stay calm you will be relying on your inner strength and newfound skills, not on alcohol or drugs.
You can do it. Millions of former addicts re-enter the workplace year after year, and most do so successfully. Just remember, you can succeed because you have learned to cope. No one says the task will be easy, but you can overcome if you try.
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