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Should I Tell My Employer I Have a Cocaine Abuse Problem?

a person sits at a desk at work looking agitated as they suffer a substance abuse problem

Well over a million Americans have diagnosable problems with the stimulant cocaine. If this is true for you, a high-quality cocaine addiction treatment program is strongly recommended. However, to get this treatment, you may need to take time off from work to get this treatment. Should you tell your employer that you’re addicted to cocaine and struggling with a substance abuse problem? And if you do, can you take the time needed for rehab without losing your job? The answers to these questions require thought and consideration.

What Is the Impact of Substance Abuse Problems in the Workplace?

Research shows that roughly three in every four U.S. adults affected by addiction or serious substance abuse are employed. The widespread existence of substance problems has some significant workplace impacts. Examples of these impacts include:

  • A greater number of sick days taken per year
  • Higher job turnover
  • Greater risks for accidents and injuries

Substance abuse problems in the workplace also come with some hefty financial costs. Nationwide, the overall expense of helping people affected by substance problems is roughly $280 billion a year. Some of this expense is borne by individuals. However, employer insurance plans also carry much of the financial burden.

What if Your Employer Notices the Signs of a Substance Abuse Problem?

The outward signs of a substance abuse problem are sometimes fairly subtle. However, they can also be quite apparent to those aware of the telltale indicators. In the case of cocaine, such potential indicators include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Unusual twitchiness or jitteriness
  • Unexplained bursts of extreme energy
  • Bouts of anger or aggression
  • An increase in impulsive or risky behavior

What if your employer notices these kinds of signs? There is no single answer to this question. Many private employers maintain drug-free workplace policies, which holds true for some federal departments and agencies. Most states allow drug testing of potential and current employees within established limits. If you fail such a test, you can be fired. That’s true even if no stated zero-tolerance policy is in effect. You may also be fired for refusing to take a legally administered drug test.

Talking to Your Employer About Your Substance Abuse Problem

What if you have a problem and want to get help? Should you talk to your employer? Generally speaking, the answer to this question is yes. But before you do so, check your employer’s current policy on substance problems. If no stated policy exists, look at your employer’s health care guidelines.

Today, many employers take a proactive stance on helping employees with substance problems. In line with this stance, they seek to protect workers needing treatment. Federal law also provides some measure of protection. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a specific law in question.

Under FMLA guidelines, you can take up to three months of unpaid leave to deal with certain medical issues. While taking such leave, you typically cannot be fired. But be aware that there are some exceptions to this general rule. Still, it’s important not to let company policy stand in the way of getting the help you need. In the long run, your lasting sobriety can matter much more than sticking with a given employer.

Find Out More About Getting Help for a Substance Abuse Problem at Northpoint

Want more advice on seeking help for substance abuse? Talk to the professionals at Northpoint Colorado. We’ll do everything we can to support your efforts to get that help.
Northpoint provides comprehensive substance detox and rehab services. Whether you have problems with cocaine or any other substance, we offer treatment options that fit your needs. Just call us today at 888.231.1281 to learn more. You can get the same information by filling out our online contact form.