Workplace addiction is often stigmatized, but more people suffer than workplace addicts than you might think – 77 percent of illegal drug users are either part-time or full-time. That’s eight out of ten people and 9.4 million workers who deal with addiction every day. The United States also makes up only five percent of the world’s population, but its citizens buy and use 60 percent of the world’s supply of illicit drugs.
Employee drug abuse leads to a decrease in productivity and an increase in accidents in and out of the workplace. As a result, workers’ compensation and health insurance claims increase, which increases employer premiums and employee contributions. Meanwhile, the addict has to cope with increased absenteeism and the resulting drop in wages – he is not doing his best and costs the company due to inaccurate work, missed deadlines and loss of equipment or material theft. Both the employer and the dependent employee suffer.
You know history and you lived it. They went to treatment. Now you need to deal with the potential stigma of your co-workers and your employer as you stay on track with your work and healing. Ideally, your employer has a support program in place or you work with your employer to develop a transition plan.
Make a plan with your employer
While your co-workers may not know why you were away, you want to be as open and clear as possible with your employer about how your treatment went and what you think of your role in the company as you move forward. Many employers have drug policies that do not indicate tolerance, but that hasn’t resulted in your firing. Instead, it led to your recovery process.
Your employer invests in your overall health and wellbeing. Now is the time to show that you did the job and you will keep doing the job. You still have dreams, goals and plans that you want to achieve in life and in your workplace. Start with that, and the rest will follow as you sit down with your employer to create a plan.
Find out about your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and related guidelines at work. Employers with long-term and successful EAPs report increased productivity and morale with a reduction in accidents, absenteeism and turnover among recovering addicts. Which services are you currently supporting? EAPs typically provide assessment, referral, and short-term advice. Do the health services of your employer cover other advisory or medical needs?
Draw up an individual plan for your daily work with your employer. Will you slowly get back into the swing of things or will you dive right in? What tasks do you feel ready for? Would you like to work alone instead of in a team? How will you and the employer address your absence to colleagues and others?
Don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns with your employer and the human resources department, who will guide you through the process. Be honest about where you are and what you can handle.
Take it slow in your personal life
Alcohol was the first substance recorded to affect employee performance. Workers suffered from excessive use and abuse of other substances such as cannabis, opiates, pain relievers, sedatives and stimulants.
You may have trouble seeing others in your life interact with these substances. A family member may need tranquilizers and other prescribed medications for their health, while a friend may drink a little too much and still invite you after you’ve distanced yourself. They know the importance of staying away from influential triggers and others who are not watching your wellbeing.
Meanwhile, others in your professional and personal life may guess what you’ve been through and respond with judgment, support, or mixed feelings as they process what happened. People will also positively surprise you because they know someone who has been there and others will ignore it or don’t care.
In the end, you are the one who counts. Take it slow in your personal life. Developing healthy routines is essential to your continued wellbeing and maintaining a work-life balance. Routine sounds boring, but it is the basis for a full and happy life.
So what are your routines? How do you get up and go now? Do you need extra time? Are there healthy hobbies and coping mechanisms that you will put into practice, such as exercising, painting, or martial arts? Structure these into your day and you can learn a new skill to increase your job performance and mood.
Going into rehab can feel like the worst experience of your life, and it’s soon followed by coming out to face the world. All you need is a change of perspective to stay on track at work and in life, but some days it will be more difficult than others. In time you get back on track, and there is a way – take it at your own pace and you’ll be fine.