disclosing past substance abuse to friendsLiving with the stigma of having past substance abuse can be difficult when you’re in a new stage of life and trying to build new friendships and start a new job. You may be wondering if you should even disclose your past substance abuse at all. You may feel ashamed or embarrassed, but you should know that you’re not alone.

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) national survey in 2011 on substance abuse, approximately 20.6 million Americans suffer from an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem. Many of these people don’t receive the help they need.

Here are a few tips on gauging whether or not to disclose a past substance abuse problem.

Disclose to Trusted Ones at an Appropriate Time

Imagine you’re on a first date with someone and he or she tells you everything about their past — warts and all. While you may appreciate their honesty, you might be caught off guard by this direct approach so soon. After all, you only met them a couple hours ago.

With most things, it takes time to allow for things to unfold in a natural way. Your past substance abuse problem doesn’t need to be broadcast publicly, but if you feel comfortable with new friends, you may want to share your past experiences with those you trust. Especially if you’re embarking on a new romantic relationship, it’s important to be honest and upfront and not hide your past.

Disclosing to Co-workers

Understandably, most people may be hesitant to disclose a past substance abuse problem to co-workers for fear of facing discrimination or stigma. There are some workplaces that are supportive and somewhere you may not feel comfortable sharing this type of information.

You are under no obligation to inform your colleagues of past substance abuse or experiences in alcohol or drug rehab treatment; however, some employers require regular drug and alcohol testing. An employer also may ask you if you are currently using illicit drugs or alcohol. Employers do not have the right to ask about past drug or alcohol use. Whenever disclosing your personal history to co-workers, trust your own judgment. Err on the side of caution by disclosing it to one or two trusted colleagues.

Do You Know Your Rights?

While it’s not right if you’re treated differently due to your past, the reality is that it sometimes happens. If you’re currently in recovery from past drug or alcohol abuse and have faced discrimination in the workplace, there are federal civil rights laws that protect you.  A few of the acts that protect you include The Americans with Disabilities Act, The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Workforce Investment Act and The Fair Housing Act.Call us today at 866-349-1770 to learn more or read more about your rights according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.