How to Tell Your Coworkers Where You Were During Rehab

How to Tell Your Coworkers Where You Were During Rehab

Once you have completed a rehab program, you must be prepared to talk to coworkers about your absence

Once you have completed a rehab program for drugs like alprazolam to the degree you can return to work, you face the uncomfortable task of telling your coworkers where you were. Knowing how to do this in a way that will protect your dignity and the respect of your coworkers, while still being honest, is a difficult quandary. Trying to decide how to tell your coworkers about your rehab is skipping a step.

You Do Not Need to Talk About Rehab With Your Coworkers

Typically, you will have entered rehab either in the context of a personal leave of absence or because of a referral from an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If you are not familiar with EAPs, it is a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems (e.g., martial, financial, emotional, family issues, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.). Employee assistance programs are usually offered in a variety of formats including telephone consults, internet resources and referral programs.

In both the case of a referral from an EAP or a personal leave of absence, there is no requirement that says you must tell your coworkers that you were in rehab at all. It would be perfectly appropriate to provide any of the following answers when a coworkers asks about your previous whereabouts:

  • I needed some time away to settle a few personal things.
  • There was a family emergency.
  • I would rather not discuss this, to be honest.
  • I took some time to center my priorities in the right place.

Indeed, you would do well to carefully consider the nature of your coworker relationships before you choose to reveal anything about your rehab. For example, if your place of employment is not one that leans toward the sharing of personal information, it would be completely appropriate to choose against sharing your personal journey. Other considerations re the nature of your role within the organization, the personalities of those you report to and who report to you. It is possible that choosing to talk about your rehab experience will damage your reputation, limit your chances for promotion or result in problems with those reporting to you.

How to Approach Sharing if You Choose to Share

There is no simple path to talking about what is likely the largest failure in your life. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help you prepare for the difficult journey you have ahead of you.

  • Be ready to earn trust again – It is vital to remember that you are literally starting at ground zero in terms of how others may trust you, so treat it carefully. Once you share that you were in rehab, you can expect that some will unfortunately treat you with contempt or as though you are somehow weak. Instead of getting angry, choose to be patient and work hard to regain trust.
  • Understand this is an all or nothing proposal – It is completely unreasonable to share about your rehab with some coworkers and ask them to hold it as a secret. Unless you have a very solid friendship with someone outside of the work environment, you should expect this to quickly become common knowledge with the staff. This is equally true whether you share it with someone or not.
  • Be as transparent as possible with your journey and where you are now – This is most easily accomplished by thinking of it in terms of a before-and-after story. Before you went into rehab, you struggled with the following addictions. Now that you have gone through rehab, you longer struggle with these addictions to the same degree.
  • Expect and welcome questions – Though many people will not initially ask you questions, you can expect that questions will come up. Whether it is related to grabbing drinks after work or going to a baseball game where beer is served, you can expect that someone will be unsure if the post-rehab you is comfortable with certain events. Instead of responding emotionally, calmly reply to any questions that come up, and invite any follow up questions as well.

What if Your Previous Career Hold No Excitement for You?

It’s not uncommon for those who have successfully navigated recovery for addiction to drugs like alprazolam to want a different career after the fact. Many actually walk down the path of becoming a recovery counselor or other professional in order to provide the same hope and direction they received in their hardship.

It’s okay to pursue something new. You are not the same person you were before your addiction and before you recovery. Your experiences changed you in a profound way. Pursue a new career if it makes sense to you.

Maybe you have not started your recovery yet, for whatever reason. If you are ready for a change, you don’t have to make it alone, but there is support available. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about your addiction. They can help you find your way.


[1] http://www.shrm.org/templatestools/hrqa/pages/whatisaneap.aspx, “What is an EAP,” accessed November 29, 2015.