You’ve decided that you’re finally doing it: you’re going to get help for your substance abuse disorder.
Breaking the News About Rehab
You’re taking that first step to sobriety through residential rehab, but you’re not quite sure how to break the news to your family, friends, professors, or coworkers that you’ll be gone, unable to attend to certain responsibilities for a time.
Perhaps you’re also dreading a negative reaction from any one of these groups of people. Chances are, however, that your colleagues and loved ones want the best for you and will be receptive and supportive of your decision.
(I mean, hey, if random people on Quora want to know how to best support their friends during and after their stay in rehabilitation, it’s pretty safe to say people will be thrilled to hear you’re getting your life back. They may even want to be a part of the process!)
And, even if they’re not, our tips below will help you choose how to relay the exciting, often scary news that you’re getting help.
Create Action Lists
Before we dive into where and with whom to h0ave these conversations, let’s take a look at the following actions that can better prepare you for that temporary farewell:
- Create a list of the concrete events or actions that have pushed you to realize you need help in treatment
- Create a list of who really needs to know why you’re going to treatment and for what reasons (remember that you are entitled to your privacy, and not everyone who knows you needs to know you’re taking this step for yourself)
- Create a list of goals that you think may be attainable after you gain sobriety
- Make a list of your best qualities and how each one will be magnified once you’re equipped with the tools that treatment can provide
Now, to the where and with whom.
Remember that not all social contexts require the same level of “spillage” when it comes to informing people about where you’re going and why. Look at the following examples.
Many universities don’t really question a gap semester or gap year in academia, especially for addiction treatment.
In fact, many higher educational institutions, like Texas Tech University, for example, already have counseling and rehabilitation recommendations and options for college students suffering from substance use disorder.
And most universities have some kind of leave of absence policy that allows you to leave your classes mid-semester with minimal penalty, and often with an option to make up the work at a later date.
How you communicate your request for time off to get treatment will depend on your workplace: the people, the policies, and whether your workplace meets the criteria that will allow you to qualify for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) protections. You can learn more about these criteria and the FMLA protections in this article.
Assuming that leaving work for addiction treatment is legally protected in your workplace, your task will be to communicate with Human Resources or your company’s equivalent. Your HR advisor can help you decide how to communicate with your immediate supervisor. If your work situation is small and informal, you will probably need to talk directly with your supervisor.
In either case, you are not obligated to go into detail about your substance use disorder. You probably have a sense of how your supervisor and colleagues will react, so let your intuition be your guide in deciding how much to divulge. Remember that, no matter what anyone thinks, what you’re doing in seeking help is courageous. It’s even possible that your decision will motivate your coworkers to seek help for their own struggle with substances.
When it comes to friends or family, they probably already have a good idea of what’s going on with you. If that’s not the case, grabbing coffee or a bite to eat and explaining that you’re struggling to get your substance abuse under control and will be seeking help will probably be a relief for you and them–as well as a chance for them to uplift you in your decision.
If you’re still feeling uneasy about unveiling the truth to a friend, send a heads-up text that states that you’ll be dealing with a medical issue for a time and will be in touch just as soon as you’re back in good health.
Help is Always Available at Great Oaks
No one wants to admit to a family member that things have gotten out of control with drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. Use the writing suggestions above to help prepare yourself for the conversation and navigate any questions or concerns your family may have for you.
Remember: no one can live your life for you. Going to rehab is the best thing anyone who struggles with substances can do, no matter what anyone else has to say about it. So just breathe, remember you have a right to your privacy, and let the truth set you free!