Will Going to Rehab Impact my Professional Career? The Benefits of Finding Treatment
If you’re beginning to think that you might need treatment for a problem that’s gotten out of control with alcohol or drugs, your instincts are on target. On the other hand, making a commitment to go into rehab is a huge decision. You’re probably worried about how a stint in rehab could impact your professional career. In fact, you may be scared you could get fired for going to treatment. Before you dismiss rehab as an unworkable option for you, consider the following ways finding treatment can benefit both your career and you.
YOUR SECRET ISN’T SO SECRET
You might pride yourself on your ability to work after drinking or taking drugs, whether they’re medications your doctor prescribed for you or prescription drugs taken for nonmedical purposes, or illicit drugs you get on the street, from friends or other sources. Just because you believe you’re hiding your substance-taking behavior from others, the effects of consuming those substances will become noticeable over time. Co-workers, supervisors, other business colleagues, suppliers and partners, even your boss can see the day-to-day patterns of behavior you’ve developed. Most of the time, it’s not as circumspect as you think. Your work starts to get sloppy and you miss important deadlines. You may become quick to anger, impatient with others, or rush through projects without paying attention to critical areas. This will jeopardize your professional career if it continues. It may not be long before someone at work reports you to the Human Resources department for suspected drug use. Rather than the situation come to that, it would be far better for you to initiate the process of finding treatment.
BE UPFRONT AND TELL YOUR BOSS YOU NEED TREATMENT
If there’s one certainty about being a drug and/or alcohol user who needs treatment and is afraid to say anything to his or her boss for fear of getting fired, it’s that the situation won’t get better until you do something about it. You can tell yourself horror stories about what may happen, listen to gossip about what actions were taken against other employees or people you know in a comparable situation, the fact remains that if you need help and ask for it, your employer will more than likely be on-board with the request. Frankly, it’s in the employer’s best interest to retain a long-time employee. After all, they’ve invested time and training and need your talent and skills, rather than try to find someone else to fill your job. Employees with untreated substance use disorder cost employers plenty: from $2,600 per worker for those in agriculture to $13,000 for those in the information and communications sector.
YOU’LL BE BETTER ABLE TO HANDLE WORK STRESS AFTER REHAB
Without having to agonize over your secret alcohol or drug use anymore after you’ve gone to rehab, there’ll be much less stress on the job. Granted, you’ll have to do things a little differently now that you’re in recovery, like making time at lunch to go to a 12-Step meeting, and while this may seem foreign to you at first, it will get easier over time. In fact, learning how to navigate your work and career as a recovering addict is not as difficult as you may think. Furthermore, many individuals in recovery say their ability to maintain stable employment improves after going through treatment for substance abuse.
PROS AND CONS OF GOING TO REHAB ON YOUR CAREER
If you’re still ambivalent about making the tough choice to go into rehab because you’re fearful you might lose your job, it might be wise to consider some of the very real-world pros and cons before you give up on the idea of treatment for your addiction.
First, take a hard look at some of the benefits to you and your career from going to rehab:
- You’ll have a clear head after completing treatment. No more foggy mornings, taking hours to get yourself together, finding it tough to form cohesive thoughts.
- Work projects and interactions – and life at home as well – won’t seem so overwhelming, certainly not to the extent they were prior to getting help for your addiction.
- After treatment to overcome alcohol or drug addiction, you’ll find that you make much better decisions. That’s because of the significant interference effect that addictive substances have on your Once your body is detoxed from them and you’ve learned coping mechanisms, so you can overcome cravings and urges, your brain begins to heal, and your thought processes involved in making choices improve.
- Moods will be more stable following rehab. You’ll be less likely to blow up at co-workers or find fault and be suspicious of others’ motives at work and elsewhere.
- Instead of a loner, an outsider, you’ll be more receptive to invitations from others to help, and not be offended when they offer their assistance on tasks and projects. In return, you’ll build goodwill by extending your willingness to help when they need it.
- Planning, prioritizing and fulfilling tasks and projects will improve once you’re no longer carrying the weight of your addiction.
- You’ll also be better able to see the big picture, as you’re no longer focused solely on your next time to use. The cycle of using, thinking about using, searching for the next fix, coming down and starting all over again consumes huge blocks of time that are now freed up for you to concentrate on more productive activities.
- Finally, you’ll begin to once again – or for the first time – feel a sense of pride and accomplishment on your successes. Remember, success builds upon success and this is great motivation for you to continue making progress at work, home and elsewhere.
What about the negatives associated (perhaps) with going to rehab over your career path? There aren’t many of them, although they may seem formidable hurdles to overcome:
- Fear of being judged by your colleagues, boss and co-workers for having an addiction may plague you – but it shouldn’t. There is no shame in seeking treatment. If anything, it shows courage and determination, two traits that will also be your allies if you do go into rehab and complete treatment.
- Worry that you’ll be passed over for a promotion may loom high on your list of concerns. Again, this is likely largely unwarranted, although it is true that you’ll probably be closely monitored to ensure your compliance with post-treatment goals, your attendance record at work, how well you do with achieving deadlines, being a team player and delivering quality work. In the end, your advancement at work after rehab is very much up to you. While you may miss out on immediate promotions, if you work hard and continue to prove yourself, you will find reward for your efforts.
- You may be involved with or the lead on an important project that you feel you can’t afford to jeopardize. The truth, however, is that you aren’t delivering your best work and the project is likely suffering as a result. Others may need to step in and assume control of the project in your absence at rehab, yet there will be other projects that you will be able to be considered for – and you’ll be better able to handle the responsibilities, deadlines and stress that go along with them once you’re clean and sober.
- Could you be fired if you refuse to go to rehab? Depending on the sector you work in and your company’s policy on substance abuse, yes. Employees who perform safety-sensitive functions in defense, aerospace, transportation and other sectors must successfully complete rehab and submit to random drug testing, along with regular performance reviews following treatment. Failure to do so may result in termination. Employers across the country in every sector, however, have implemented substance abuse policies, put in place employee assistance programs (EAPs), provided training for employees and supervisors about substance abuse and dealing with the problem in the workforce and provided access to other preventive and rehabilitative programs.
MAKE THE SMART CHOICE
In the end, it’s up to you to choose the right course of action: going into rehab. If you value your job and want to ensure you’re able to pursue career objectives, including advancement and promotions, you can’t accomplish these goals when you come to work impaired, have frequent absences, turn in shoddy work, miss deadlines, or cause financial and legal losses for your employer due to your addiction. Keep one point in mind about going to rehab and its effect on your career: While it may seem like a temporary setback, rehab is the single most beneficial thing you can do for yourself and your future, whatever your career path or goal.