Colleagues, Alcoholism and Recovery
Colleagues were something I found particularly difficult to handle because my whole personality and self-esteem was tied up in my work and I saw my alcoholism as a sign of weakness and failure in this context. I did not want my colleagues to perceive me as anything other that the successful fulfilled business woman and model personality.
So, the first time I had a detox I maintained that my time off was for stress. This was all very well except I had to be abstinent at business functions and no one knew that. So 3 months after my detox I had my first big company dinner. I was worried that if I did not have a drink my colleagues would think I had a drink problem! So I had one – just one. That was all on that occasion and I thought I had conquered the problem. So the next night I had another – and another – and within a week I was back on the booze big time.
Reveal my Drink Problem
So then I decided to tell my boss I needed time off – and I revealed it was for a drink problem. Although I felt relieved to have told him and now could no longer drink at work functions. It was a mistake in some ways as now I was no longer viewed as the same top flight material. As I struggled with relapses and to keep my act together. This was noticed, and the reasons for my taking my eye off the ball were now known and judged. I felt my career at that company was at an end – after 23 years.
Rehab and Recovery
Rumours of my alcoholism reached my new employer where I went in a sideways move and for a fresh start. I told them it was all under control – and it was for some months – but before the year was over my drinking had reared its head there too. This lead to a period of suspension and my finally getting into rehab and recovery.
That job was permanently damaged too though and I now work in the addiction field. I have no regrets about where my alcoholism has taken me in the world of work but not everyone is going to have the option of a career move when in recovery. So my advice to those asking if they should tell their employers is – probably not, at least not straight away. Not until they have seen you in a firm recovery over many months so that they can see how recovering alcoholics can be brilliant employees.
I would also not say anything if applying for a new job. We never advise people to be dishonest but you do not have to give information that is not asked for if not relevant to the post. If you were an employer and you had 2 people to choose from. One a self confessed recovering alcoholic and one who had never had the problem. You were ignorant of anything to do with alcoholism, which would you employ? Wait till you have proved yourself before revealing all!
If you have an alcohol or drug related problem. Please call 0330 333 8184 for free and confidential advice and help.