The Secret Life of an Addict: How to Explain Alcoholism to Your Boss

Drug and alcohol addiction is an illness that you can only keep brushed under the rug for so long…

Sooner or later, you will find the addiction you struggle with in secret beginning to surface in your life. It might begin to surface at home and your family can detect it, it might begin to surface around your friends, or it might even begin to surface at work as you constantly come in late or miss work.

Man in White Dress Shirt Holding Glass Bottle on Brown Wooden Table

While at first, it might seem like the best idea to hide your problem, that is, in fact, the worst possible thing you can do. Addiction recovery is not an easy process and definitely is not a route that can be foregone alone.

Telling your family about your addiction can be hard, but telling your boss can almost be even harder. You might fear that your livelihood is in jeopardy. However, you are putting it in the most jeopardy by just participating in the addictive activity in the first place. It is a smarter choice to address the issue with your boss up front to avoid future conflict or turmoil.

In fact, your boss might be able to offer you some additional help and advice that could be greatly beneficial to your recovery. Sometimes, companies also offer special solutions and counseling services for addiction made possible through the company’s budget.

Tips for Talking to Your Boss

The Basics

When bringing up the topic of your addiction to your boss, do so in private. Most likely, they have already noticed changes in you and will assume that your discussion will be relative to those changes they have begun to notice. Typically, you will be offered some sort of help and/or time off to aid in your recovery.

However, you should also be aware of your rights and responsibilities as an employee prior to talking to your boss.

They Don’t Need to Know It All

While they are your boss and you do want them to have an adequate understanding of your illness, they do not need to know every nook and cranny of your life – such as what you might tell your spouse about your addiction.

Furthermore, it is important that you stick to what they need to know. You do not want to hinder their impression of you, but you do want to give them an adequate understanding so they can help you get the help you need.


Tread lightly, but remember, they are also there to help you.