Despite the stereotypes of an addict or alcoholic as a homeless, jobless, solitary individual, most addicted people lead relatively normal lives, with jobs, partners, children, friends, etc. Because of this, many people feel like they cannot just put their lives on hold and go to treatment. Here is why having responsibilities should not keep you out of treatment.

Your Performance Is Probably Suffering

Let’s be frank: if you’re struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, your performance at work and family life are undoubtedly suffering. Once that happens, the people around you will eventually figure out why. There are many warning signs of substance abuse both at home and on the job:

  • You frequently arrive late.
  • You frequently call out sick, especially on Mondays.
  • You aren’t available for family functions.
  • You don’t do things you once enjoyed.
  • Your temper is short.
  • Your work is sloppy.

While addiction and alcoholism are nothing to be ashamed of, they need to be taken care of as with any illness. If you had diabetes, for instance, and missed work or family holidays regularly because of it, sooner or later, somebody would take you to task for it.

The Things You Treasure Will Eventually Disappear

If your family or employer already has suspicions–and they probably do–that you are abusing drugs or alcohol, you are in a precarious position. Even the most understanding boss, spouse, or business partner needs to look at the bigger picture. That includes the company as a whole, children and other family members, and the business’s bottom line. If your spouse or employer has already approached you, that is all the more reason to seek treatment.

You Have More Reasons to Go Than Not to Go

While many people fear that getting treatment for their substance use disorder will be detrimental to their career or family life, that is no longer the case. In your workplace, there are laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to protect you from discrimination and from being fired. 

Your family, too, will likely be happy to hear that you want help. You haven’t been hiding your drinking or drug use nearly as well as you think you have. Your attitudes and behaviors have not gone unnoticed; in fact, your spouse may be on the verge of leaving.

Telling the people most important to you–your family, co-workers, and employer–that you want help can turn a dire situation around.  There is much to be gained from reaching out to others, such as newfound respect, their willingness to help you, better job security, and keeping your family intact. Whether you are still functioning at a high level or you are on the verge of losing it all, taking action to get treatment now to halt the progression of the disease has far more benefits than risks.

How To Get Treatment

Once you have realized that treatment is necessary, you will have to take action, particularly if you choose inpatient or residential treatment. Unlike someone with no ties, you will have to arrange for your responsibilities to be covered in your absence. For example, you will want to:

  • Discuss your leave-of-absence with your employer’s HR department.
  • Be sure that your health insurance, if you have it, covers a sufficient portion of your treatment costs.
  • Talk to your spouse about how the family will function in your absence.
  • Talk to the treatment center about how much access you will be permitted to the outside world, such as phone calls or visits, if you choose residential treatment.

Although everyone likes to think that they are indispensable, the fact is that you probably haven’t been pulling your weight in many areas for quite a while. Ensuring that you have gotten things in order beforehand will illustrate that you mean business and take this seriously.

What Happens After Treatment 

Upon successful completion of treatment, you will doubtless feel like you are under scrutiny. That may be true, especially if this is not your first attempt at getting clean and sober. Once you return, people will understandably want reassurance that you are committed to your recovery. You may feel uncomfortable when upon your return home and when you go back to work. Rest assured, this is natural and, after the initial awkwardness passes, you will find everyone, including yourself, adjusting to your “new normal.”

Once you have completed treatment, you may be required to meet the stipulations outlined in a Return-to-Work Agreement (RTWA). An RTWA is a written document containing all of the employer’s expectations for employees returning to work after completing an addiction treatment program. An RTWA is usually required when the employer has approached the addicted individual regarding their failure to meet work responsibilities due to substance abuse. If the employee then invokes the right to attempt treatment before being fired, your employer will more than likely arrange a Return-to-Work Agreement.

Some combination of you, your employer, your Employee Assistance Program, your union representative (if applicable), and addiction treatment professionals will develop the agreement. You and your representatives must receive proper notice of the RTWA’s creation before treatment, and it must adhere to laws guarding addicted employees against dismissal, as well as current company guidelines.


Most people with a substance use disorder have responsibilities to family and work, so getting treatment can seem like an insurmountable hurdle. Do not let yourself fall for that illusion. Getting treatment is the best way to not only maintain your life but to excel at it. At Cornerstone Recovery Center we know that life doesn’t stop because someone comes into treatment. Cornerstone Recovery Center considers our clients’ real-world commitments and responsibilities during their stay and they work with each client as an individual to accommodate their needs while rigorously maintaining an environment that lends itself to recovery. A fully immersive, transformative recovery experience, Cornerstone’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) provides and fiercely protects a safe, healing space for their clients, as well as aftercare to help them stay on track. Call (800) 643-2108 to discuss your needs with our staff. From addressing complex trauma to learning about 12-Step recovery, Cornerstone Healing Center is an excellent option for you if you have commitments and responsibilities. You don’t have to spend more time worrying about the problem when the solution is at your fingertips.s