Drug and Alcohol Addiction


Taking Time Off Work to Attend Rehab

One of the most common fears people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction have is how to seek treatment without putting their job at risk. While this issue does need to be handled carefully, evidence suggests that seeking treatment is much more likely to provide a boost to your career as opposed to simply ignoring your substance abuse problem. When you’re sober, you’re free to focus your attention on achieving your career goals instead of dealing with the effects of your addiction.

Sharing Sensitive Information with Your Employer and Coworkers
How you choose to handle explaining the reason behind your absence is entirely up to you. Some people decide to be totally forthcoming about their need to seek treatment, while others keep the information strictly on a need-to-know basis.

If you work in a close-knit environment, your supervisor and coworkers may already suspect that you need help based on their observations. If so, they’re likely to be supportive of the efforts you’re making in taking control of your addiction. Even though it can be scary to admit vulnerability, being upfront about your need to seek treatment can be seen as a sign of your integrity and honesty, as well as your commitment to your employer. As an added benefit, your supervisor may be able to connect you to additional resources through the company’s Employee Assistance Program.

Seeking addiction treatment is nothing to be ashamed of, but keeping your decision confidential might be in your best interests if you don’t feel your colleagues will be supportive. If you’re worried about protecting your privacy, you can work with the human resources department directly to minimize the number of people who know the reason for your absence. A doctor’s note explaining the reason for your absence may be required, but your doctor is ethically bound to protect your privacy. All he or she needs to do is certify that your need for time off work is due to a legitimate medical condition. Others who don’t need to know this confidential information can simply be told you’re taking a leave of absence to attend to some personal matters or that you’re using accrued vacation time.

Legal Protections for People Seeking Addiction Treatment
While absence from work due to substance use doesn’t qualify for legal protection, seeking addiction treatment is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Taking leave under FMLA allows you to request an unpaid leave of absence of up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. Employers are not allowed to terminate a worker simply because he or she has requested FMLA leave for a qualifying condition.

There are specific requirements you must meet to take advantage of FMLA. You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, have worked for a minimum of 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and be employed at a location with at least 50 workers employed by the company within 75 miles.

If your employer violates the FMLA, you can seek legal action. A settlement may include compensation for lost wages, loss of future earning potential, and any applicable liquidated damages.

Alcohol and drug addiction are also considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Current substance abuse isn’t protected, but employers must provide reasonable accommodations if you’re sober and in a recognized treatment program. This often includes flexible scheduling, with options such as leaving early, working from home, being allowed to refuse overtime to attend counselling or support group meetings, and taking an unpaid leave of absence.

If your employer violates the ADA, you can file a federal suit. You won’t receive monetary damages, but your employer can be ordered to make the necessary accommodations to be in compliance.

Concerns Related to Performance Issues
If your employer has a drug and alcohol use policy in place that was clearly communicated to all employees and is consistently enforced, you can be terminated if there is proof you violated the policy. Your employer can also terminate your position for performance issues related to your drug and alcohol use. This might include:

  • Being late to work
  • Missing too much work
  • Inappropriate behavior towards coworkers or clients
  • Ignoring safety precautions or causing accidents
  • Mishandling sensitive information
  • Theft or misuse of company resources

If there is concrete proof of performance issues, it legally doesn’t matter what the cause of the issue is. For this reason, it’s in your best interests to seek addiction treatment before your drug or alcohol misuse starts affecting your job performance.

By Dana Hinders

Leaving rehab is an exciting time. You’re beginning a new chapter in your life, equipped with the tools to maintain your sobriety. However, this does not mean that you won’t be faced with temptation.

The best way to prevent relapse after rehab is to proactively think about what triggers the urge to use and how you’ll handle cravings when they arise. Everyone’s experience is a little different, but this post outlines the most common triggers and offers suggestions you can use to help yourself stay clean.

1. Stress
A major part of the appeal of drugs and alcohol is that they provide a temporary escape from life’s stressful situations. If you’re worried about losing your job, experiencing financial difficulties, or fighting with your significant other, the key to maintaining your sobriety will be finding a constructive outlet for your stress.

Some ideas to consider include:

  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Write about your feelings in a journal.
  • Pray or meditate.
  • Exercise.
  • Talk to a friend about what’s bothering you and brainstorm solutions together.

2. Boredom
Boredom is a common trigger among recovering substance abusers who turned to drugs and alcohol as their preliminary method of socializing and having fun. It can be challenging to find ways to entertain yourself after leaving the structured environment of a rehab facility.

The best boredom busters are ones that align with your own interests and passions, but here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Have friends over to binge watch a new show on Netflix while enjoying a bowl of freshly-made popcorn.
  • Take a class to learn about a subject you’ve always been interested in, such as painting, gardening, or mastering a new language.
  • Spend time outdoors hiking or biking. Exercising and spending time in nature helps provide natural endorphins to boost your mood.
  • Get involved with a volunteer organization that lets you meet new people while helping to make the world a better place.
  • Look for opportunities to socialize at your place of worship, such as guided Bible study groups or short service trips.

3. Frustration
Making significant changes to your life isn’t easy, so it’s normal to become frustrated when your recovery doesn’t progress as well as you’d hoped. However, you can’t let this frustration cause you to give up or decide that being sober isn’t worth the effort.

When you’re frustrated, head to a meeting. Friends and family may mean well, but other recovering substance users will have a unique understanding of the challenges you’re facing. They can reassure you that what you’re feeling is normal and help you work towards finding a way to move forward with your life.

4. Peer Pressure
In a perfect world, the people closest to you would respect your decision to get clean. Unfortunately, the friends you made while you were still using may feel threatened by your newfound sobriety. They may ignore your requests to engage in drug- and alcohol-free activities, take you to places that trigger memories of past substance abuse, or encourage glamorizing your history of addiction.

The sad truth is that there isn’t thing you can do to control the behavior of others. You are only in control of your own thoughts and actions. If you find yourself surrounded by people who aren’t being supportive of your recovery, it’s time to put some distance between yourself and them. Saying goodbye to old friends is hard, but it’s sometimes necessary to move forward. Give yourself permission to seek a new social circle that understands your worth and encourages your recovery.

5. Failing to Address Co-Occurring Conditions
Many people with substance abuse disorders also struggle with co-occurring conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. If you’re not taking the time to address these issues, you may find that you’re tempted to start using as a way to self-medicate.

To effectively maintain your sobriety, you must address all mental health concerns with your therapist or counselor. Cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication may be necessary as part of your addiction treatment plan.

One Mistake Isn’t the End of the World

If you do succumb to the urge to use, it’s not the end of the world. One mistake doesn’t mean that your efforts in recovery are doomed. Think of the recovery process as a journey that requires regularly reevaluating which treatment strategies and coping mechanisms work best for your needs.

St. Joseph Institute offers extensive relapse prevention and aftercare services, including counseling, retreat programs, and alumni gatherings. If you’re struggling to maintain your sobriety, we can help connect you with the resources you need to ensure a lasting recovery.

By Dana Hinders

Happy couple
Addiction is not just a physical affliction nor is it only emotional or mental. When it comes to recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, a successful comprehensive plan should include ways of understanding and treating your body, mind, and spirit.

That’s why gaining the ability to stop using drugs and alcohol is just one part of the whole-person care recovery process. By the time you enter a treatment facility, your addiction has taken over your life and has consumed your every waking moment. Your personal, professional, and social lives have all been but damaged.

Whole-Person Care Approach

Because addiction disrupts every part of an addict’s being, treatment must address the needs of the entire person for it to be successful. The goal of treatment is to provide you with an environment where you can heal, restore, and renew your life.

Similar to a holistic recovery, the whole-person approach builds on the realization that addiction is only a symptom of a much larger problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the principles of effective addiction treatment is placing the emphasis on the multiple needs of a person, not just on his or her drug use. This includes a person’s medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal issues. It is also important to make sure the treatment is suitable to a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.

While no single addiction treatment is suitable for all addicts, this program works with the client’s preferences and ideas. Some courses of treatment include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapies
  • Medication management
  • Detoxification
  • Individual, family, and group therapy
  • Personal training and cardiovascular exercise
  • 12-step programs
  • Alternative therapies such as animal assistance, art, or sports
  • Meditation

Treating the Whole Body

This type of treatment combines traditional and alternative-based therapies with a slant toward natural treatments and remedies instead of relying solely on pharmaceutical ones. The whole person care approach focuses on treating:
Mind: Specialists work with you to determine what led you to seek out substances in the first place. You can learn a new skill set for handling problems and challenges in your life.
Spirit: Besides counseling for your recovery, you may also receive treatments to help with stress, depression, anxiety, or similar conditions. Treatment options may include meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and spiritual instruction.
Body: Treatments such as nutritional education, exercise, massage, and a healthy diet help promote your well-being. Your body will probably be in need of repair and recuperation after being ravaged by alcohol or drugs. A strong body can help defend all types of illnesses and conditions.

How This Approach Works

The whole person care approach to recovery is a long-term treatment that focuses on self-improvement. It helps you identify the causes of your addiction, understand its triggers, and create a recovery plan. This program can help patients by:

  • Stopping the addiction earlier rather than later
  • Understanding the events that led to your substance abuse
  • Coping with triggers through relaxation, thought disruption, and visualization
  • Finding alternatives to drug and alcohol abuse

By working to bring the natural balance back to your life, empowering change, and building self-esteem, this approach has been shown to provide long-term recovery solutions instead of a short-term reprieve.

Addressing Other Health Issues

Those with addictions have the same medical issues as non-addicts, but their symptoms may be elevated because regular health care isn’t sought. About 45 percent of Americans seeking substance abuse treatment have been diagnosed with a co-occurring mental and substance use disorder.

Dental care is another health problem often plaguing addicts. For instance, if you are addicted to opioids, you may wind up with a dry mouth since this is one of the side effects. If your body does not produce enough saliva, bacteria will grow and cause tooth decay. Oftentimes, you won’t be thinking about brushing your teeth when you are addicted to drugs or alcohol. A whole-person approach to recovery will help address all related health issues, often by putting you in touch with other health specialists who can treat other concerns.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

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