Seeking Help for Addiction While Maintaining Your Career [Guest Article]

I was contacted by Eva Benoit, who’s a life coach and author of The 30-Day Plan for Ending Bad Habits and Improving Overall Health which is out this fall. This is my second guest article. Click here to read the first one.

If you think you may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, know you are not alone. According to a Pew survey of American adults conducted in August of 2017, 46 percent of people have a close friend or family member who has been addicted to drugs. The pressures of a high-powered job along with family and social obligations can cause an unbelievable amount of stress. People turn to drugs and alcohol when feeling stressed because these substances provide a temporary escape and even feelings of release from everyday problems by triggering dopamine production. However, over time, addiction essentially “hijacks” the brain, making you crave the substance intensely and lose control.

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The Impact of Addiction

Addiction is a disease with the power to ruin lives. Drugs and alcohol decimate your physical health and can lead to serious conditions like heart disease, cancer, and other diseases that lead to premature death. It also breaks families apart. Families affected by alcoholism report higher levels of conflict than families with no alcoholism. Addiction is considered one of the “4 As” in marriage that most often lead to divorce (the others are adultery, abuse, and agendas). Furthermore, children of addicted parents are more likely to develop substance abuse problems of their own.

Your drug or alcohol use can have a major impact on your job and finances, as well. Addiction changes priorities. Money you should save is spent on booze. Time you should be working is spent getting high. If you get to a point where you recognize you may need help and you still have your job, you are doing better than many. There are ways you can seek help for your addiction problem while maintaining your career and work life, but it’s not always simple or easy.

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Your Rights to Rehabilitation

First, as an American, you are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A chemical dependency is considered a disability, and a disability is considered a valid excuse for taking medical leave. The employee must have a longstanding history with the company and check themselves into an inpatient rehabilitation center.

Talk with your employer about company policy regarding medical leave for addiction treatment. Keep records of your conversations, and keep conversations as simple as possible. Tell your supervisor that you are sick, you need resources for help, and you are working toward a complete recovery. Approach the conversation with solutions to problems and present a cohesive plan your boss can approve.

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Another Option for Addiction Recovery

If inpatient treatment is out of the question, you can seek help other ways. Call local rehabilitation centers about outpatient recovery programs geared toward professionals who need to maintain a work presence. These programs meet with the patient at various times throughout the week so they can continue living at home and fulfilling responsibilities. Outpatient treatment is a good option for professional executives who need to keep their condition under wraps. Of course, if being in your familiar environment proves to be too tempting for true recovery, outpatient treatment may not be right for you.

While addiction is a disease, there is no magic pill that can solve it. Beyond getting sober, an addict needs to address the mental and emotional problems behind their behavior. If they do not address these problems, they are likely to relapse and begin their destructive cycle anew. Inpatient or outpatient, in the end, what really matters is that they are committed to recovery and truly want to live their life free from the bondage of addiction.

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