How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

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TheDiddler
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How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by TheDiddler » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:32 am

I am a regular poster who has changed his identity for this post due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

I am an alcoholic, and have reached a bit of a "breaking point". I get drunk most evenings and usually show up to work quite hung over. I get away with it since the nature of my job only involves being in the office half of the time with a lot of "solo" work. I need help to kick this addiction and am willing to get full-time professional help in order to do so. I believe the drinking came from a combination of work stress and boredom in my personal life.

What I don't know is how to handle this issue with my employer. I would like to take four weeks off to enter a program at my expense, and return to work afterwards. I don't have enough vacation time to cover more than a few days of this. HR manual says we can request unpaid leaves of absence, which may or may not be approved, and there is no guarantee your job will be there when you come back. Frankly, I think my job would be there, because it is a hard to fill niche position and the particular work tasks are undesirable to most. In anticipation of getting help, I also completed most of my time-sensitive work early in the year, so a 4-week absence would not really affect much of anything.

Some relevant facts:
-Employer is a publicly traded company, so is fairly savy on HR issues/legal requirements.
-I am in an "at-will" employment state.
-I have never come to work under the influence or brought booze onto company property.
-We get random drug/alcohol testing. I have always passed these tests.
-I thought about taking a less stressful job elsewhere, but this position is way too lucrative in terms of pay and benefits to move elsewhere.
-My annual reviews have always been positive.
-My boss has never accused me of having an alcohol problem, though I think he may suspect something but is keeping it to himself.

I thought I heard once that if one admits a drug/alcohol to an employer before getting "caught", they are afforded certain protections. Is this true?

How should I handle this matter? I don't want to be shown the door immediately. I want to keep my job but take the unpaid time off to get help. Thanks.

I also need to examine whether my health insurance (which is a very good employer-paid BCBS policy) will cover any of the treatment, but I am prepared to pay cash anyway.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Alex Frakt » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:04 am

I'm posting to verify that this is indeed from a active, long-time member.

Also, please keep your comments on the employment issue presented here. Off-topic comments will be removed and the poster will likely be warned.

flyingbison
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by flyingbison » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:11 am

OP, assuming you would be getting medical treatment for alcoholism, that should qualify you to take FMLA leave.

http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by KyleAAA » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:15 am

I have a friend who went on FMLA leave for a drug problem and it wasn't an issue with their employer at all. In fact, I don't even know if the employer was told the exact reason for the leave (or maybe they were, I don't know). Do your homework first, but I think you would be quite safe going that route.

EDIT: I believe to qualify for FMLA you have to be referred for treatment by a health care provider, so definitely see a professional.

anil686
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by anil686 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:21 am

Echo the last two posts - from an employment standpoint - I would consider going through your physician and discussing it with them. I am a physician and am purposely very vague with the FMLA paperwork - it is doctor/patient privilege and confidential information. Most employers are just told (at least from my office) that the patient needs treatment for a medical condition and is not going to be able to work for an estimated period of time.

Hope that helps and good luck to you.

Cheryl604
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Cheryl604 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:22 am

First of all, it's a great first step that you are taking here. Hard, but it will improve your life overall.

Your company, if it large and established, should have a policy with regards to alcohol and drug abuse. You are not the first person in this position. Check your employee manual and the HR website. If your company has a morality clause, that should be considered as well.

The bottom line is that there is a risk in disclosing because you can be penalized if your work quality or output has significantly changed. If that was going to happen, you might already be aware or have some sense that your boss is displeased.

You should have protections under FMLA - family and medical leave act - to take time for treatment. I am not sure if you need a doctor to sign off on this or what. I googled FMLA and alcohol treatment and got a few interesting hits so you might try that as well.

Doesn't address all your concerns but I hope it's a starting place.

- Cheryl

alisa4804
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by alisa4804 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:22 am

Good for you for recognizing you need treatment. As you know, alcoholism is a disease and genetic; my belief is it runs in most families (often not talked about). I appreciate your valid concern about the misunderstandings about alcoholism; if it were diabetes (another disease running in families), support for medical treatment from employers would likely be unquestioned. As someone else mentioned, good to pursue medical leave. Maybe you don't have to explain your medical condition, but as you know, people are curious. No real suggestions here, just offering my very best wishes and support to you.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by BrandonBogle » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:27 am

TheDiddler wrote:I am an alcoholic, and have reached a bit of a "breaking point". I get drunk most evenings and usually show up to work quite hung over. I get away with it since the nature of my job only involves being in the office half of the time with a lot of "solo" work. I need help to kick this addiction and am willing to get full-time professional help in order to do so. I believe the drinking came from a combination of work stress and boredom in my personal life.


Diddler, first and foremost, I congratulate you on coming to this realization and accepting that you need outside help. It takes lots of bravery just to admit this, much less come to a public forum for advice.


TheDiddler wrote:What I don't know is how to handle this issue with my employer. I would like to take four weeks off to enter a program at my expense, and return to work afterwards. I don't have enough vacation time to cover more than a few days of this. HR manual says we can request unpaid leaves of absence, which may or may not be approved, and there is no guarantee your job will be there when you come back.

...

Some relevant facts:
-Employer is a publicly traded company, so is fairly savy on HR issues/legal requirements.
-I am in an "at-will" employment state.
-I have never come to work under the influence or brought booze onto company property.
-We get random drug/alcohol testing. I have always passed these tests.
-I thought about taking a less stressful job elsewhere, but this position is way too lucrative in terms of pay and benefits to move elsewhere.
-My annual reviews have always been positive.


MegaCorp has a similar setup to what you have outlined. One thing we have is a "Employee Assistance Service". This not only includes a hotline to talk with (anonymously if you so choose), but also resources to help you find a treatment center, etc. Have you checked to see if your company provided such a service? They have some established setup to help you take a voluntary leave for treatment without going through the "admit to the company I am alchololic" and potential repercussions from it. In our company, this is provided not just for addictions, but family loss, depression, etc. since the company understands that everyone has stuff in their personals lives that they sometimes need help with. I am hoping your company has such an offering.


In any event, I again congratulate you for taking what is arguably the biggest step -- admitting you have a problem. I have known far too many people who refuse to take that step.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by python99 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:30 am

Dept of Labor info on FMLA leave for substance abuse treatment..just be aware

Treatment for substance abuse may be a serious health condition if the conditions for inpatient care and/or continuing treatment are met.
FMLA leave may only be taken for substance abuse treatment provided by a health care provider or by a provider of health care services on referral by a health care provider. Absence because of the employee's use of the substance, rather than for treatment, does not qualify for FMLA leave.

The employer may not take action against the employee because the employee has exercised his or her right to take FMLA leave for substance abuse treatment. However, if the employer has an established policy, applied in a non-discriminatory manner, that has been communicated to all employees, and that provides under certain circumstances an employee may be terminated for substance abuse, then pursuant to that policy the employee may be terminated regardless of whether he or she is presently taking FMLA leave.[/b]
An employee may also take FMLA leave to care for a covered family member who is receiving treatment for substance abuse. The employer may not take action against an employee who is providing care for a covered family member receiving treatment for substance abuse.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Alex Frakt » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:33 am

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you cannot be legally terminated for admitting you are an alcoholic, nor seeking treatment for alcoholism. Nor can your employer subject you to additional testing or other requirements compared to your fellow employees (except for a few specified categories of employment where there are special safety or security concerns). You can, of course, be terminated for cause for poor job performance which stems from alcoholism or breaking specific company rules such as showing up drunk. But that does not appear to be the case here.

That said, if I were in your position, I would begin with a consultation with an employment lawyer. It will only cost you a couple of hundred bucks and you will learn your rights (there may be state rights which go beyond the ADA requirements) and how to best protect yourself in case the employer does retaliate in some way. For example, the lawyer will presumably suggest that all communications be in writing, or at least verified in writing. He or she may also suggest including a copy of a doctor's prescription for the treatment program when you notify HR. Note that I would not actually retain the lawyer at this point, nor tell the employer that you have sought advice from a lawyer. You want information, not an unnecessary adversarial relationship with your employer.

Edit: looking over the previous posts, I see some very good points. Definitely look up whatever HR has made available on medical leaves in general and addiction treatment in particular. Read it and take it with you to the consultation.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:41 am

anil686 wrote:Echo the last two posts - from an employment standpoint - I would consider going through your physician and discussing it with them. I am a physician and am purposely very vague with the FMLA paperwork - it is doctor/patient privilege and confidential information. Most employers are just told (at least from my office) that the patient needs treatment for a medical condition and is not going to be able to work for an estimated period of time.

Hope that helps and good luck to you.


I strongly suggest that you go this route, of having medical documentation of "needing medical care [or just "treatment"] for a medical condition", with the condition unspecified, IF this would work per FMLA.

Even if you are "protected" somehow if you were to disclose the nature of the "medical condition", one simply cannot stop others from having their own viewpoints and biases. Thus, once you return, your work could be subjectively evaluated "differently", with no reference to your condition. And you've already mentioned that you think your boss might suspect a problem. (This could mean you've got an understanding/sensitive boss, or the opposite, and you probably don't want to find out the hard way.)

Yes, people are curious.
If (when!) asked what was wrong, just say - and repeat - something like "it's personal" or even "well, it's personal and a bit embarrassing". (This can leave all sorts of possibilities in the minds of your colleagues, and that's fine, too, for this purpose!)
You could add something like "thank goodness it turned out okay", suggesting yet other types of medical problems.
Simply refuse to give details.
Miss Manners would probably have a better response to repeated queries than "Why are you asking?"

And you deserve a LOT of credit for dealing with this. It won't be easy, but you'll probably have an amazing sense of accomplishment and relief once you are through the process - although it is an ongoing process, probably for the rest of your life.

And think of how the savings will compound, with the money you previously spent on alcohol :wink:

RM

killjoy2012
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by killjoy2012 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:45 am

I'm "old school" in that I keep work life to work, and personal life personal as much as possible - sometimes to a fault. I would also recommend looking into FMLA and work with your physician to see if they can provide the necessary FMLA paperwork w/o divulging the details of the medical issue or treatment to your employer.

I think the only issue I would internally debate with myself is the discussion with your immediate manager. How are you going to tell them, and what exactly will you tell them. I think some of this will be based on your personal relationship with that person, but I would certainly error on the side of not divulging too much info. Then again, putting yourself in the place of your manager, try to do the right thing.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by The Wizard » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:46 am

Yes, I agree with RM about being ambiguous about the specific problem. Apparently under FMLA, the doctor's statement can also be patient confidential and should be adequate proof to your employer's HR department that you are following the legally permissable path.
So good luck with all this!
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Raymond
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Raymond » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:03 pm

No advice from me, but I wish you the best.
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Globalviewer58
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Globalviewer58 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:11 pm

Have you tried AA or other methods to cope with your addiction? A good friend admitted his addiction 27 years ago. He still goes to the Friends of Bill Wilson meetings on a regular basis and on some days 3 times when he feels the urge.

Part of the AA program is to inform your friends, relatives and co-workers of your addiction. My take on this step is that you acknowledge your problem and most who are informed become a part of your on-going support group. In my friend's case he can go to a bar with me but orders coffee and doesn't seem to feel the urge to drink in spite of his surroundings.

Congratulations on taking the necessary first step to recovery - admitting you have a problem requiring the help of others to solve. Fortunately you don't seem to have a tragic story that often accompanies the revelation. Good luck!!

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Crow Hunter » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:43 pm

My wife is an HR manager and I hear about similar cases at times.

I have heard several stories about people who had substance abuse problems who were caught on a random screen and were walked out the door. Some of them were exceptionally good employees that my wife was extremely disappointed to lose. She would always comment that if they had just contacted the EAP and gotten into a treatment program they would still have their jobs but instead they tried to treat it on their own, failed and wound up losing their jobs. Others went into EAP, got help and are still working.*

Don't let this be you. Check with your company, they most likely have some type of confidential Employee Assistance Program that will funnel you to the correct professionals to get help. Contrary to public belief, companies do not want to lose employees. Particularly good performing employees.

*There is no breach in confidentiality. She doesn't tell me anyone's name even though it wouldn't do me any good anyway because I don't know anyone she works with other than her boss and an engineer that I grew up with that she helped get a job there.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by placeholder » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:48 pm

At my company the assistance program is pretty protective of the individual and if you have something like that there I recommend as now you are in danger of a supervisor deciding that you need to "take a test" which might end in your dismissal for cause.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by nocturne » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:56 pm

First, kudos on being self-aware and humble enough to seek help. I have had family experience with loved ones who did not take this step, and we really wish they had.

I also strongly recommend that you consult an employment lawyer. This is not to create an adversarial relationship with your employer, but just to navigate the complicated legal ins and outs of FMLA and employment law. HR departments at big companies operate by documentation. Even if you have a great relationship all the way up the chain and they happily make every accomodation for you, things can go sideways later.

An acquaintance had a similar situation and it all worked out well for him. Years later, another employee didn't handle the same problem as well. That prompted HR to take a close look at every employee's record and "manage out" those considered a risk. This is just one reason it's best to disclose only the minimal required information. You may feel like you are being overly circumspect with your boss and others, but it's really for the best. Your attorney can help you decide where that line is.


Best wishes to you!

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:14 pm

First of all, congratulations for being able to face the demon in the mirror and admit there is a problem. That has to be the most difficult step of all.

Second, your post indicates you get heavily intoxicated in the evenings that you are still feeling the effects the following morning, that contradicts your statement that you do not go to work under the influence. Please note, I am not intending to be critical, simply pointing out that as you currently state it here is how you may say it elsewhere. An employer can use anything you say (even hearsay :o from others to do more investigating) - this may not be the case for you, but choice of words is super important in matters like this. HR is management's friend, not yours.

Finally, as the others have suggested, a doctors note indicating extended medical treatment is necessary and not to be delayed for your recovery of illness. I'm not an HR partner or attorney, but I'd think that would get you cleared to take an unpaid leave of absence without retribution.

I wish you the best of luck in your recovery.
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by munemaker » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:47 pm

Congrats on dealing with this proactively.

My experience in small and medium sized companies is that the company will work with you to a point.

I would start by reading your company's employee handbook and see what it says on the subject. If the company has an "employee assistance program" as one of your benefits, that would be one place to start. From my experience, those are kept strictly confidential. The firm contracted by your employer bills the employer but does not tell them the identify of the person requesting assistance or the nature of the assistance requested.

Also,I have seen people who tripped drug and alcohol tests who were given the opportunity to take treatment. However, relapses would generally lead to dismissal.

Using a medical doctor and the FMLA was mentioned by others. I have no experience with this but it seems reasonable.

Good luck.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Austintatious » Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:16 pm

It seems to me that the treatment you propose is a necessity and, having made that decision, you should not delay. The only thing to consider, IMHO, is how to go about it. I believe the suggested visit with an attorney either specializing in or well versed in employment law is excellent advice, and that it would be money well spent.

There's something else to be said, here. It's clear that this forum has been moved by your courageous disclosure and by the very fact that you would ask your fellow Bogleheads for advice on something so personal and so meaningful. I dare say that reading your post for the first time had it's own sobering effect on all of us, and for the better. You've given us pause for deep reflection, not only about human frailties and strengths but about the real value of this forum, and we owe you a debt of gratitude for what you've done here. You've made us better aware of the power of this Boglehead community and of community, in general.

I feel that, having come to grips with the addiction and as long as you face it head on, you'll be operating from a position of strength. We'll be thinking of you and your journey. Best.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:18 pm

I have no advice to give, but my prayer is that you find the road to full recovery. Good luck to you.
Don't do something. Just stand there!

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by pennywise » Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:48 pm

My first post, though I've been lurking for quite awhile. My sister has experienced this situation; she works for a government agency and indeed, she used FMLA when she needed an intensive 30-day inpatient treatment program. It was granted, she is still working but the reason I share this is that alcoholism is a progressive disease. Even if your current excessive drinking is confined to evenings/non work hours you may eventually find the situation progressing to the point at which you are noticeably impaired at work; indeed it seems your manager and/or coworkers may already suspect you have a problem.

This happened to my sister. Toward the last stage of her severe alcoholic period several times she left the office at lunch, got very intoxicated, returned to work and had to be physically removed by her fiance. At the time she had a supervisor who 'looked the other way' however even though she eventually sought help, has had no recurrence of alcohol-related work issues, in fact has had nothing but superlative performance reviews and even won awards...she has not been promoted nor been hired for numerous intra-agency transfers and promotions for which she has applied. It is reasonable to assume that because her condition became very obvious there is probably some type of bias, although of course she will never be able to prove that.

My reason for sharing this is to suggest that since you know and are facing your alcoholism, please don't delay in dealing with it. Untreated, it rarely if ever will get better on its own and will probably get worse. Please don't wait until you don't have choices. Godspeed and I hope you find the help you are seeking.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by letsgobobby » Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:56 pm

EAP and FMLA is how I would go about seeking the treatment you need. If your physician is uneducated about addiction, consider seeing a specialist (ASAM certified) because you may find other effective treatments which don't require you to take a month of unpaid leave and a month of residential treatment on your own dime, since that could cost $20k-$80k depending on your salary and the facility you choose.

best wishes

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Crimsontide » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:43 pm

I manage a team of 20 engineers and technicians and as such have dealt with this exact situation. The first step is to contact your Employee Assistance Program or similar if you have it. Once in contact with a counselor and referral to treatment center or therapist and a recommendation for leave is made you can then file for FMLA to cover you while undergoing treatment. Our management team (including HR) are very discrete in managing and helping our employees with these issues, hopefully yours will be as well. Good luck, it's great you have taken this first step.

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Post by Taylor Larimore » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:58 pm

Bogleheads:

The Opening Post (OP) and Replies are the Bogleheads' Forum at its best!

Best wishes.
Taylor
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sambb
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by sambb » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:07 pm

Critical, so critical, to use a healthcare professional who is familiar with this sort of an issue, both for work and for you. However, this is always difficult to find.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by investingdad » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:08 pm

Well done on taking a massive first step. My megacorp has an EAP for these exact reasons. If you have one, call them. I second an attorney chat just to be safe. Though I have no way to support this statement, I'd expect the employee that proactively seeks treatment is in a better place than the employee that is confronted by HR.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by jackholloway » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:11 pm

I am a manager at my megacorp, and my job includes helping my employees get where they want to go and protecting my company.

Were you one of my reports, I would want you to do as many above have said - first find out your rights under the law, then get a doctor's order for treatment under FMLA. Do not delay getting treatment - addiction is nothing to mess around with At my company, you would contact HR to start the FMLA process, and they would want documentation from the doctor describing how long you would be out, and whether this might involve filing against short term disability instead. They, and you, would not tell me details, just how long you will be out.

I would probably say something like "Oh no, how can I help?", but the answer "The treatment program will keep me completely out for X weeks starting Tuesday. Who should I hand off Project Dewdrop to?" is perfectly communicative. I would not pry, and actually do not want to know any more. Many people want to talk about their injury, and find it cold if you do not ask. When an employee had a condition that kept him out for a while, my intention was to make sure he talked to HR, that he knew about EAP, and that he knew his FMLA and disability options.

I want employees back when they are ready, and I would rather they get any accommodations they need, as that will get them fully operational faster. I also like the people who work for me, and wish them well.

I would prefer employees not tell me of thier alcohol problem beyond that needed to get treatment (unless they need to). I have people who work for and with me that do not drink, but I do not know if they are temperance types by choice, Mormons, Muslims, or recovering alcoholics- I would not offer any of them alcohol. Not knowing the details makes it easier to avoid bias. I will do my best to avoid bias either way, but speculations are easier for me to reject as non objective.

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prudent
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by prudent » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:16 pm

Certainly agree with Taylor's comment above.

OP, I wish you the best as you overcome your illness.

ResearchMed
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:28 pm

jackholloway had some useful suggestions, and good feedback from a management perspective.

However, I'd suggest re-thinking using wording such as "The treatment program will keep me completely out for X weeks starting Tuesday. Who should I hand off Project Dewdrop to?"

The phrase "treatment program" is a bit too suggestive. How about "the medical care will probably...".

But the cooperative nature of asking how you should hand off any work in advance of being away sounds very good.

As for wording, this IS something that a labor attorney might help with, as most of them (with any experience) have "seen it all", or almost all.

A short consult, freebie or paying for an hour or two would probably be very worthwhile, with some specific questions like this as well as asking "What else should I be thinking about or saying, or not saying...?"

Again, best wishes for a successful journey!

RM

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by lululu » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:31 pm

My two cents, as someone whose family member has this problem:

Getting help is a major step. My experience has been that denial goes on a long time and just makes things worse. I once asked a shrink, how can he possibly expect me to believe he hasn't been drinking, when if I lit a match we'd both be blown to kingdom come, and he said drinking actually affects a part of the brain so that the person's grasp of reality is impaired.

(Update: What he meant was, the person with the problem can think he or she is doing their work and so on adequately or better, while the people around him are seeing a train wreck. I point this out to make it clear this problem can't be neglected.)

I suspect the folks saying have a doctor recommend leave but obscure the reason why are correct. As was pointed out above, the impact on the sister's career seems to have been significant.
Last edited by lululu on Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:45 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by gasman » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:33 pm

I have zero expertise in this area. I am speaking about a family member who had a problem with prescription drugs. He got to the point where he did not feel that he could perform his duties, went to rescue/crisis and called in sick for a few days and entered a 30 day residential program. He admitted the problem to his boss. He took short term disability which did pay out. He did very well and returned to work. He Had good reviews before and after his leave. One year and one month after returning to work he was terminated without cause. The unofficial excuse was the economy. He suspects that the reason behind this was his leave of absence. This was also a very recognizable company that one would expect was on top of HR issues.

Best of Luck.

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pennstater2005
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by pennstater2005 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:38 pm

Alcoholism is all too known in my family and my wife's family. I truly hope you get the help you need. Good luck to you on your way to recovery.
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TheDiddler
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by TheDiddler » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:38 pm

Folks, I sincerely appreciate all of the support and advice. I am having internet connectivity issues tonight due to storms, but plan on responding to many of your replies individually over the next day or two. I also did some more reading today on the company's policies/FMLA. I have a couple of follow-up questions on that procedure based upon what I've read and the comments some have made here.

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frugalhen
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by frugalhen » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:44 pm

I admire your decision to confront this. Ultimately the professionalism of your boss and hr are about to come into question but that cant be helped. As for repercussions, losing a job after admitting needing help will not bode well for the employer in court or in the eyes of co workers if they were retaliatory, which is unlikely anyway.

Tell both your boss and hr.Take a combination of unpaid or leave or fmla if possible and go get healthy.

You have a lot of hard work ahead but you are about to feel life again. You are to be commended and my prayers are with you!
"get out and live, you are dead an awfully long time" - Jimmy Demaret

Colorado13
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Colorado13 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:10 pm

Raymond wrote:No advice from me, but I wish you the best.


+1. Admitting you need help is a great start. I wish you all the best.

bluemarlin08
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by bluemarlin08 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:36 pm

I applaud you for recognizing the problem. Do whatever it takes, my prayers are with you. Life will be much brighter on the other side of this, I promise.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by BogleBoogie » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:54 pm

Alcoholism is considered a medical issue and it sounds like getting out in front of it with the employer is the best step, by way of FMLA. If you have a drink in your hand right now throw it away immediately. Best of luck.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by denovo » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:00 am

I know nothing about your issue; but fingers crossed on getting successful treatment. It takes a lot of courage to admit you have a problem. Best of luck, stranger.

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oldzey
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by oldzey » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:35 am

When I quit drinking, I had to quit my job, because I was a bartender.

Been sober 18 years this September - smartest thing I ever did.

Good luck!
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staythecourse
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by staythecourse » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:52 am

This is an area that seems to be riddled with potential landmines for your and the employer.

If it was me I would call an employment lawyer and try to get a consult on your rights. Not sure if alcoholism is considered a disability and thus protected under the ADA.

I would not trust (albeit with good intentions) advice from folks on this website in making your decision. You need some professional advice on how to handle this to make sure your rights (if there are any in this situation) are protected.

Good luck.
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SGM
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by SGM » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:54 am

Congratulations for admitting to this problem. This is a serious health issue. I hope you get the treatment you need.

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in_reality
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by in_reality » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:26 am

staythecourse wrote:This is an area that seems to be riddled with potential landmines for your and the employer.

If it was me I would call an employment lawyer and try to get a consult on your rights. Not sure if alcoholism is considered a disability and thus protected under the ADA.



http://www.ada.gov/employmt.htm wrote:Q. Are alcoholics covered by the ADA?

A. Yes. While a current illegal user of drugs is not protected by the ADA if an employer acts on the basis of such use, a person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection. An alcoholic is a person with a disability and is protected by the ADA if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job. An employer may be required to provide an accommodation to an alcoholic. However, an employer can discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct. An employer also may prohibit the use of alcohol in the workplace and can require that employees not be under the influence of alcohol.


I suspect that it may come down to if they want you around. If you disclose, they can use it as an opportunity to find something performance related as an excuse to replace you as not being able to do the job. I don't see the ACA as being of meaningful protection.

I also question whether you need 4 weeks off. I suspect you can find an AA meeting or two that you can go to every day after work. I do mean everyday and weekends too.

What you're going to find is that you can't do this alone. Your going to have to admit to your mistakes and make amends for what you've done wrong. And you are going to have to take things how they come. I don't think you can really control what the company will do and I don't know that it would be useful for you continue on pretending that nothing about your behavior has impacted your work. Even if it's a minor thing and saying sorry and/or making up for it doesn't seem like a big deal, I don't think you will do well in recovery if you aren't willing to consider the ramifications of your behavior and make amends for it.

It's been over 30 years without a drink for me and I am not even that old. Grandpa gave me a drink as I came down with a nasty cough when we were visiting them. I was 13 (German culture influence perhaps letting a child have a drink), and from the first drink I knew... six years of hell later I admitted I had a problem. I didn't have insurance or money when I needed to straighten up so I went to AA meetings. I stopped working for a while and don't think that is was really so necessary. I needed to learn how to cope and the meetings helped me. Work related stress is inconsequential compared to not having a way to keep yourself from needing to escape.

Anyway, please get real advice and ignore me but I would try to keep your job by working with people as much as you can. I'd admit my problem and try to make up for what I've been doing wrong. Whether that means telling your boss or HR or doctor or lawyer, I really don't know. Get an evaluation and see what is recommended.

One way or another, you can make it if you admit you are powerless. Honestly, you really are. Don't make your self crazy by worrying "should I tell my employer or not". Get help and stay sober for today and everything else will work itself out.
Last edited by in_reality on Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by lululu » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:54 am

in_reality wrote:
I also question whether you need 4 weeks off. I suspect you can find an AA meeting or two that you can go to every day after work. I do mean everyday and weekends too.


Withdrawal may require hospitalization. That is nothing to mess with.

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in_reality
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by in_reality » Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:17 am

lululu wrote:
in_reality wrote:
I also question whether you need 4 weeks off. I suspect you can find an AA meeting or two that you can go to every day after work. I do mean everyday and weekends too.


Withdrawal may require hospitalization. That is nothing to mess with.


Which is why I suggested an evaluation. I don't believe it's known at this point whether or not inpatient treatment is necessary.

If outpatient treatment is medically viable and not taking the 4 weeks off is advantageous from a work standpoint, then why should it not be considered? Again, I suggest an evaluation to get a better picture of treatment options.

The OP stating "I am willing to get full time help" does to me not suggest that a medical professional is either requiring or even recommending it.

http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/44-46.pdf wrote:Most alcohol treatment programs find that fewer than 10 percent of patients with alcohol withdrawal symptoms will need admission to an inpatient unit (Abbott et al. 1995).

ABBOTT, P.J.; QUINN, D.; AND KNOX, L. Ambulatory medical detoxification for alcohol. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 21(4):549–563, 1995.
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Mr Grumpy
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Mr Grumpy » Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:03 am

Congratulations on your thread and that you've admitted you have a problem. I've been sober for 31 years. Being sober is a life-changer: literally.

Can't say I'm more sagacious now, but in sobriety, I have the benefit of exposure to other recovered alcoholics; their wisdom and experience. Initially (as a general rule), it's not wise to announce your problem to others. Alcoholism has many victims; children, wives, relatives, close friends - you don't always know your co-workers, associates, and manager's personal history. You will run into people that think all alcoholics are weak; and even when sober for a long time, they view us as ticking time bombs. Some harbor resentment against alcoholics whose disease have done them great harm in life.

But...Second, your boss. If you feel comfortable with him/her, then confide to them why you need the time. For the company, it should be viewed as a medical condition (but to you, an acute terminal condition). You're a sick person trying to get better, not a bad person trying to get good. Some may not see it that way, but you should. You may be surprised that the company views your treatment in a routine way.

You ever find one, start a new thread.

I might be wrong on this, but I can't remember taking to any recovering alcoholics that indicated they were fired for reasons of "recovery" and not situations involving their active drinking.

Third. Don't get lost in the weeds, i.e., FMLA, ACA, or disability rights. You need help, you, not anyone else at your company - don't give them your problem - they call it an insidious disease for a reason. If your health insurance will pay, I would take advantage, but sobriety's beginnings can come in many forms: outside meetings, short-term, 30 day rehab placement, half-way houses. Do what's best for you. Many active alcoholics are always looking for a "Plan B" for recovery and never quite get to recovery. Never say to yourself, "I'd like to stop, but..." Don't let the work situation get in the way and become a speed bump to recovery. Stopping is your number one priority now.

I don't know why, but there is a need we alcoholics have to announce we no longer drink. Wait awhile.

I admire your courage. I could never post a question like this on a board 31 years ago. Keep in mind that we are lucky because there is a cure to our problem. The cure is simple, not easy, but simple.

During the process, when you have doubts, ask some long-termers if they ever regret stopping and if their life has gone downhill after cessation.

You ever find one, start a new thread.
Last edited by Mr Grumpy on Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

amitb00
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by amitb00 » Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:48 am

Best wishes OP and excellent advise by fellow Bogleheads. I am sure it will be treated and look forward to hear happy news from you sometime in future.
I hope things remain confidential and your work, social interactions etc remain unimpacted.

Rich in Michigan
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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by Rich in Michigan » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:09 am

First off, I wish you the best. You are taking a courageous first step.

Before retirement, I was an executive in one of the world's major corporations. I had a fair number of direct reports who needed to take leaves for everything from serious medical conditions to personal problems outside of work. It always stayed between myself, the employee, and need-to-know members of HR and the corresponding medical component of the corporation. Nobody else, above me or otherwise, ever even asked about the specifics. Confidentiality was assumed.

I am bothered by your concern that you might be shown the door. That is understandable, but speaking strictly for myself I can say that I would be extremely supportive of a good employee who was trying to get his/her life back on track. Even putting aside the human issues of wanting them to get better, it would make them a better employee. That would be a win for everyone. I would have to figure out how to delegate their workload for awhile but that is my problem and not theirs...I got paid to figure that stuff out. People who went on leave always worried about that but I simply told them "you worry about you, I will worry about work"

You have gotten a lot of good advice in this thread and I won't repeat the same stuff but I will simply extend my best wishes for success. I have a family member who has fought the same demons for years and I wish he had taken the same step that you are taking.

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Re: How to admit/should I admit alcohol problem to employer

Post by westie » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:38 am

FMLA is a great program. The year I retired, I used 12 weeks of it to visit my mother in a local nursing home.

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