If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction and you want to talk about it with your boss, it’s very important to approach this situation carefully and professionally. Revealing personal issues like this can be challenging, and it’s natural to be concerned about the potential impact on your job.
The first thing to consider is why bring it up?
If you’ve been written up at work or had some issues relating to your alcoholism, does it benefit you to disclose this? Even if you’re a “functioning alcoholic“, it’s possible that it can start having negative impacts on your work and your career.
Workplaces will typically have policies against drinking on the job, and even if you’ve never drank on the job, disclosing your alcoholism can cause people to assume you might have done that, or could be doing that, which can put added stress on things.
In most places, an employer can’t discriminate based on health issues. Being an alcoholic shouldn’t hurt your standing in your company, but it certainly can. It can be almost like a stain, even if you overcome your alcoholism and are performing great, people could still see it as a risk. So this is something to be careful about, and to really consider your unique situation…
You Have To Put Your Health and Recovery First
If this means that you need to get treatment, that should be your priority.
It’s not a wise long-term idea to just ignore your alcoholism and put your career fully in front of everything else, that’s more of a ticking time bomb.
In some cases, putting your health first means being upfront with your employer so that they can accommodate you to get treatment, to allow you to avoid work functions that might have alcohol there, and so on.
In other cases, disclosing this could actually have a negative impact.
This is why taking an assessment of your career, the company, your boss, and so on – is such an important step. You’ll have to use your judgement here.
Can you get the help you need for your alcoholism without disclosing it to your employer? Or do you need them to support you in some manner, as discussed above (or another way)?
If you are worried about the risk of losing your job by disclosing an addiction, you could talk to a legal professional or HR to understand your rights and the potential implications before having the conversation with your boss.
Some employers can be very supportive, understanding, and that can be helpful.
You have to think about what you gain by disclosing this, and what you stand to risk. If you make a mistake at work, or you’re late or you call in sick, you don’t want everyone to just assume you’re on a bender or making mistakes because you’re drinking, right?
Keep in mind that just because something is the law, or just because HR says you’re safe, that isn’t always the case. At the end of the day, companies have ways to get rid of employees if they want to, and it’s not always practical to fight back or to prove that you were punished for your disease.
Regarding the risk to your job, it’s challenging to predict precisely how your boss will react. It depends on various factors, including your company’s culture, policies, and your boss’s personal approach. Ideally, a supportive employer would focus on helping you through the situation and maintaining your productivity while you seek help.
However, it’s essential to be aware that there might be some risks involved, especially if your performance at work has been affected by your alcohol addiction or if your company doesn’t have appropriate support mechanisms in place. In some cases, disclosing a personal struggle might lead to negative consequences.
Does Your Company Offer Resources For Addiction?
You can check to see if your company offers any resources for addictions and employee health, as this can help give you an indication how they might handle such a situation.
Be Mindful of Privacy
Discussing an addiction issue with your boss may or may not fall under confidentiality, so you might be relying on their word/their tactfulness to keep it a secret. If this is something you don’t want everyone at your workplace knowing about, strongly consider the chances that your boss (or whoever you talk to about it) might discuss it with other people.