3 Ways to Keep Your Addiction Recovery Confidential

This is a guest post which has been attributed to recovery writer Alan Goodstat (brief bio at the end of the piece) and was provided to me by Melissa C at BlogContentGuild.Com.
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The addiction recovery process is a personal journey. Addicts should not feel obligated or pressured to discuss their addiction recovery with anyone with whom they do not want to discuss it. There are three simple rules to follow to ensure your privacy: 

  1. Do not openly talk about your addiction or recovery in public.
  2. Be cautious about whom you tell in the workplace.
  3. Understand the confidentiality policy in your workplace.

1) Do Not Talk Openly About Your Addiction in Public

If you are sensitive about your addiction and recovery, there is no need for you to discuss it in public. You have plenty of opportunities to discuss and work through your addiction at support groups, recovery meetings and treatment facilities. When and if the time comes that you feel ready to share your struggles in public, you can do so without feeling pressure.

If someone knows about your addiction and asks questions about it or your recovery, you can politely decline to discuss it by saying, “I’m not ready to discuss this with you yet” or “I am not comfortable discussing this publicly.”

Eventually, you will need to share your addiction history with some people in order to fully recover, but they need to be people you trust and with whom you want to share the information. You should not feel pressured to share the information until you are ready.

2) Be Cautious About Whom You Tell at Work

It only makes sense to be careful about whom you share your addiction, treatment and recovery information with at work. There are many reasons why discussing addictions in the workplace can be a slippery slope. You may fear job loss or advancement repercussions, endure social stigma associated with addiction or you may simply feel ashamed about your addiction. If you feel that you want to tell someone in your workplace about your addiction, the best place to start is with your supervisor. There may be times that your addiction and treatment could affect your job performance or your availability to work overtime or on special projects. Your supervisor needs to know why you are unavailable for these job duties. A supervisor can also get you in contact with a Human Resources representative who can explain the company Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to you, if one exists.

If you want to share your addiction with co-workers, make sure they are trustworthy. Gossip can run rampant in a work environment. If you are not going public with your addiction or recovery, you run the risk of gossip corrupting the truth of your situation, potentially making it sound worse than it really is.

3) Understand the Confidentiality Policy in Your Workplace

You may have to let your supervisor know about your addiction problem in order to attend support and treatment meetings, adjust your work schedule or activities, or excuse yourself from company events where temptation may arise. If this is the case, make sure you are familiar with your company’s confidentiality policy.

A confidentiality policy may be a part of a company ethics policy or code of conduct. Any of these policies should protect your personal data, information about medical treatment or counseling services received, and any additional personal information you share with the company. You will want to make sure that your information will remain confidential and that you will not suffer any job-related repercussions as a result of sharing your addiction information with appropriate personnel, most likely your supervisor or a Human Resources representative.

Companies with confidentiality policies will often conduct employee trainings when policies change or annually, in order to keep the policies fresh in employees’ minds. If you do not have a confidentiality policy, you may want to re-think discussing your addiction with anyone other than Human Resources.

By following these three simple rules, you can ensure your addiction and recovery process remain confidential.

 Further Resources:

Learn more about utilizing the Family Medical Leave Act for addiction recovery.

 About the Author:

Alan Goodstat, LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, received his Masters in Social Work at Columbia University in New York City. He’s now a Director of Performance Improvement for a Behavioral Hospital System and contributes to the addiction treatment site RecoveryConnection.org. He wrote a chapter on substance abuse in the book Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding Teenagers With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.