If you are struggling with addiction, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Addiction is an illness that affects many people. It does not discriminate and is not an illness that is reserved for those who are weak or bad. This is an illness like any other, and it can affect individuals of all ages, gender, race and background.
It is understandable, however, if you are concerned about others finding out that you are an addict. Unfortunately, addiction is an illness that continues to carry a certain amount of stigma. Many people have an idea of what addiction is and, because they have no direct experience of it, they have a number of misconceptions about what it actually is and entails.
Many misunderstand addiction and believe that addicts all have the following characteristics:
- They drink cheap alcohol out of a brown paper bag in the street
- They do not have anything to do with their family
- They cannot hold down a job
- They are aggressive and violent
- They drink all day long
- They smell bad and rarely wash.
When this is what many people think about addicts, then it is hardly surprising that those affected fail to get help or do not want to admit they have a problem.
The Reality of Addiction
The truth of addiction is often far removed from peoples perception of it. In fact, many alcoholics, for example, have the following characteristics.
- They have a good job and can function well
- They are wealthy and have nice homes
- They have many friends and are loved by their family members
- They are well respected at work and in their communities
- They are never aggressive or violent when they are drinking
- They never drink during the day and can go for days without having a drink
- They are well groomed and wear nice clothes.
It is easy to see then, why so many people with addiction are embarrassed or ashamed of their illness. Attitudes are changing, but many not quickly enough. Unless a person has had direct experience of addiction, he or she may be unaware that it is an illness that affects hundreds of thousands of people across the UK.
Telling Your Employer
If you are an affected individual and have decided that you need help for addiction by signing up for a programme of rehabilitation at a residential clinic, you will need to take time off work. However, you may be worried that telling your employer will affect your position within the company. You might be afraid that knowing about your addiction could mean you will be fired or overlooked for promotions in the future.
Your employer is likely to already suspect that something is wrong. If you have got to the stage where your addiction is causing obvious problems in your life and you have reached out for help, you can bet it has been noticed at work.
You cannot put off getting help for fear that your boss will not understand. Remember that addiction is a progressive illness and if you do not get help now, it will simply get worse. This means that even if your employer is not aware now, he or she will be before long.
Nonetheless, it would be a good idea to check your companys policy on addiction before you say anything. Some employers may not be understanding about your illness, although others will want to do everything they can to help you. At the end of the day, your recovery is the most important issue at the moment. If your employer does not understand your illness, you may want to consider looking for a new job after your treatment.