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Thinking of telling my boss, need advice.

Old 08-02-2017, 03:56 PM
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Thinking of telling my boss, need advice.

Good afternoon, I needed some advice and I was hoping someone could help.

Short story is, I'm a 32 yr old male, I'm single, childless and with an okay job. Alcohol has been a problem my entire adult life, drugs have become more of an issue recently. I had some health issues about 6 months ago, so I tried to quit drinking for the first time. Needless to say, I failed quite badly. I've tried to at least cut down and manage my drinking by reconfiguring my drug/alcohol intake, but I woke up Saturday night, alone as always, having lost control of my bladder again. It really felt like a new low.

Despite many half-arsed quitting attempts, I really, really gave it my all this time. But I think I've come to realize that I can't win this fight alone. I thought I could, but I can't. I've recently moved to new role at work helping to lead an SAP implementation, which is much more stressful than my previous job. So I'm worried that my issues outside of work are becoming much more noticeable to my company and colleagues than before. My company does offer addiction treatment through its 'Employee Assistance Program', but I am worried about the implications it might have on my position at the company. Can an employer discipline me if I tell them I have addiction issues? Presumably not, but I'm guessing they can still force me out somehow?

Anyway, sorry for the essay. I actually feel a lot better now, than I did when I stared writing this post. If anyone has any words of advice, I would greatly appreciate it. For obvious reasons, if there any Canadians familiar with how the law in Ontario works on this, I would particularly like to hear if you've been through this?

Thanks in advance.

Pete
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:05 PM
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"Can an employer discipline me if I tell them I have addiction issues? "
and not do anything about the addiction issue?
what do you think?
they have a addiction treatment through an Employee Assistance Program
go for it! iirc,an employer cant terminate someone for getting help.would seem weird to offer help yet terminate employees that take the help
might want to get in touch with HR , get a copy of the employee handbook.
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:16 PM
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Evidently I didn't word that very well. The Employee Assistance Program is an outsourced service that the company essentially subscribed to, of which addiction services are just a very small part.

I'm sure they can't just fire me for having addiction issues, but my concern is that those issues are going to affect my performance at work much more noticeably. Poor performance is something my company can, and often does, fire people for.

I was just trying to better understand that relationship and where I might stand if I do tell my boss.
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:30 PM
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I have had the same thoughts...I have told coworkers in the past that I struggle with alcohol and that I think I need to stop. However, I have never raised it as an issue with my boss. I don't know, its a tough one. If you think you need the help then I say go for it. Your company can't fire you for having a drug addiction if you come to them for help or at least that is how I understand it. Maybe hire a business lawyer to review your employee agreement first
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:38 PM
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If your worried, could you not get help outside work AA smart recovery etc, good luck
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Pete6256 View Post
Good afternoon, I needed some advice and I was hoping someone could help.

It really felt like a new low.

But I think I've come to realize that I can't win this fight alone. I thought I could, but I can't.

My company does offer addiction treatment through its 'Employee Assistance Program', but I am worried about the implications it might have on my position at the company. Can an employer discipline me if I tell them I have addiction issues? Presumably not, but I'm guessing they can still force me out somehow?

Anyway, sorry for the essay. I actually feel a lot better now, than I did when I stared writing this post. If anyone has any words of advice, I would greatly appreciate it. For obvious reasons, if there any Canadians familiar with how the law in Ontario works on this, I would particularly like to hear if you've been through this?

Thanks in advance.

Pete
Pete,

First of all, I want to say welcome and I"m so glad you are here. I don't have any personal experience with the job part of the issue, but I'm sure some others with more knowledge here do, and I hope they will reply.

I would say, though, just from my perspective, that your employer has this benefit so that employees can use it.. whether it's mental health or addiction or any other sort of mental of physical issue. I can understand your hesitancy to "admit it" to them, but if you go on the way you are, it will probably come out one way or another anyway, in your job performance or otherwise.

If you end up in an uncomfortable position at work, but getting help and getting on the right track, it most likely would be worth it.

I expect though that there must be some confidentiality agreement with the service provider.

I did a quick look and found an article from the Toronto Star earlier this year about employees rights when dealing with addiction, maybe even recently improved guidelines or laws. I can't speak for its applicability in your situation, but you could probably find out fairly easily what the practice is, or even look in some Human Resources materials your employee provides, to find out more.

Beyond all that, we are so glad you are here and hope you will stick around. This is a great place for help.

You've taken the first step in seeking help, and that's reflected in the comfort you felt I think just in writing your worries down and sharing them in a forum like this.

We are here to help.

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Old 08-02-2017, 04:56 PM
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I don't know if your employer can discipline you for seeking support.

BUT, think long and hard of the ramifications. There is a stigma attached to alcoholism for sure. What if your work slipped or you made an error that had nothing to do with drinking, but your boss suspected it might? I think it is never a good thing to discuss your alcoholism with any co-worker. There are too many potential pitfalls.

By the way, I live in Canada, too.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:13 PM
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Thank you so much for the kind words, I guess I just need to mull over this.

I seem to be trapped in the same downward spiral I saw my father go on and he ended up 6 feet under. Maybe sacrificing my career is a price worth paying to avoid the same fate? To be honest I just don't know anymore.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:13 PM
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It really comes down to the company culture, your boss and trust. Have you looked at other resourcess? Have you visited with your medical doctor and ,or a therapist. EAP would be needed if you need inpatient help, but getting a professional assessment or two might help you figure out your options. IMHO.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:17 PM
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Don't do it. Dont tell your boss, dont tell anyone at your work.

Ex HR manager here. Also worked at large political corporation for years.

We also purchased SAP (POS) software program from Germany.

We also had an out-sourced Employees Assistance Program".

All I can tell you is this : It's for the benefit of the Corporation so you cant sue us when you DO get terminated.

They will just find a different path to terminate so it wont looked "linked" to your confession of alcohol/drugs.

Corporations are not your friend. They have systems in place. Trust me. Keep your job and your reputation and seek help "outside" of the Organization.

We are NOT for the employee. But we want you "to think" we are so you cant sue later.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:33 PM
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Since wj said it plainly....I worked in HR too....I agree. Use other resources if at all possible if you like your work.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:37 PM
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Glad others replied who know what they are talking about, Pete!

So certainly don't listen to my ill informed words above, other than my welcome and offer to listen and support here.

What they say makes sense. Seeking help in some other way.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:37 PM
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Unfortunately I'm going to have to agree with the last two commenters.

There shouldn't be a stigma, you should be able to tell your work and get support and not have to worry about it.

But there is in most workplaces. Sad but true. So I would personally try and get help outside of your work.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:49 PM
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I agree with everyone who said "don't tell". However, I would advise you to seek help for finding a recovery method that works for you. From my experience in working for Corp America for decades within high level management positions, my drinking escalated drastically. While it was great to get promoted, taking on the additional responsibilities wasn't fun. My anxiety was through the roof and the panic attacks were unbearable at times.

Get some help, get the monkey off your back and get on with a successful life. You will be SO grateful that you did!

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Old 08-02-2017, 06:42 PM
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My situation may be a little different. I have worked at the same large law firm for over 27 years. Back in 2008, I had been there about 17 years, when I decided that I needed help for my drinking.

After waking up in my computer chair in the wee hours of the morning, realizing I had to get up for work in about 3 hours, I decided I had had enough. I emailed my work and told them that I was checking myself into an alcohol detox facility and would then either go to an inpatient rehab, or do an extensive outpatient rehab program, depending on what was recommended at the detox facility.

I was at a point that I needed help, and I wanted to be sober more than anything in the world...even if it meant losing my job. Thankfully, my employer was very supportive, and it all went very well.

On June 6th, I celebrated 9 years sober and I still have my job. In November, I will have been at my job for 27 years.

This is really a situation where everyone must do what they feel is necessary. Some employers may use it as an excuse to fire someone, but not every employer is like that. You must decide what is the most important issue for you.

I wish you every success.
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Old 08-02-2017, 07:11 PM
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You may want to look into your insurance as well, they have options. You can always take a medical or stress leave if you feel you need time off to recover.
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Old 08-02-2017, 07:21 PM
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Thanks so much for the advice everyone, I'll let you all know how it goes.
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Old 08-02-2017, 07:38 PM
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Don't tell your boss, there is no upside for you, or even him.

I was the boss of about 150 employees and if one of them told me they had a problem, I would be very supportive, being an alcoholic myself.

However, my boss, which would be another layer up the hierarchy, was a mean, vindictive, just awful person. I would not want to tell her about your situation.

But let's say I keep your alcohol problem confidential, and then you slip up and get a DUI or something even more serious while on the job. If my boss confronts me, and wants to know if I knew you had a problem, and if so, why didn't I tell her, suddenly I'm in a tough spot. I've seen the blame game happen a lot in organizational politics, and and managers "punished" for their subordinates behavior.

While your boss my be a very supportive person, telling him means he may need to tell his boss. Confidentiality is a myth at that point.
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