How to Get Addiction Help Without Sidetracking Your Career

Special to Palmetto Counseling’s Blog | May 17, 2019 5:55 PM EDT
This issue features an article by Maria Cannon

If you think you may have an addiction, you likely have a lot on your mind. You’re probably worried about how seeking help will impact your family, reputation, and career. When work is a factor in deciding to seek treatment for your addiction, it can be confusing trying to figure out how to get the help you need without damaging your future. But it’s important to think of addiction as any other illness—and to take the following steps to get the help you need.

Know When It’s Time to Take a Break and Seek Help

Sometimes, it can difficult to see the signs of addiction, especially in yourself. Loved ones may begin to notice changes in your behavior, like sudden moodiness and lack of energy. These symptoms can impact your work as well, and ultimately be what makes you start to realize you have a problem and need help. If you are worried about whether taking time off for recovery will impact your career, you really shouldn’t be. Honesty is best when it comes to talking to your supervisor or HR department and asking for the time you need. Your company may even have additional resources that can help you get through the recovery process and take better care of your mental health. Also, the time you take may be covered by FMLA, which allows employees up to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave annually to care for themselves or immediate family members. If you really don’t want to talk to your employer about your addiction, you should also know it’s okay to simply ask for time off due to medical reasons. You do not have to disclose the exact reason.

Make Time to Really Care for Yourself

Facing an addiction is tough. Aside from the pressure you may be feeling from work and your personal life, you are also likely dealing with some inner-stress as well. In fact, stress and addiction are closely linked. Those in recovery often identify stress as a trigger for abusing drugs and alcohol, and chronic stress from work can be one of the biggest triggers. That’s why it is important you seek out stress-relieving practices during this time to allow your body and mind to heal. You can practice self-care and relieve stress through exercise, journaling, or even a yoga and meditation practice. When practiced together, yoga and meditation are an especially potent supplement to a rehabilitation program. You may want to begin with some guided meditations and basic poses to get yourself in the habit of practicing every day. To make your practice even more relaxing, consider creating a meditation and relaxation space in your home. Select a quiet area where you can really allow your mind to focus. Add some soft lighting, relaxing scents, and a comfy mat to give yourself the perfect new place to practice yoga and meditation.

Be Patient as You Work Through Recovery

Recovering from addiction is not like recovering from a cold. It’s an ongoing process that you must commit to in order to stay clean. Your recovery process should include self-care, but it should also include other steps to take care of your mental health. Addiction can be rooted in a deeper mental health issue or related trauma, so getting to the root of your addiction is the best chance for a lasting recovery. Take whatever time you need from work to really address your issues—and try not to rush yourself back into the responsibilities. Relapse is common in addiction treatment, but you should still do all you can to prevent yourself from slipping back into old habits, which includes reducing work stress when you do decide to return. Ask about starting part-time at first or other flexible work arrangements, if you think it could help you stay strong in recovery.

Admitting you have an addiction and realizing you need help are the hardest steps in any recovery process. If you have already come this far, you have a lot to be proud of, so don’t let the fear of stigma at work keep you from starting your recovery. You can do this!

About the author

Maria Cannon believes we’re never too young to dedicate ourselves to a hobby. She created HobbyJr to encourage young people to find a hobby they love. Maria has suffered from depression and anxiety for years. Her hobbies–gardening, quilting, sewing, and knitting–play a major role in maintaining her mental health.

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