This man had many opportunities to seek help ( article here). The first time when his drinking increased to the point that he was drinking on the job, then when he got caught the first time. Then he relapsed and his drinking became an obsession again, and had him filling pop cans with booze in the police cruiser.
It’s not rocket science to say that there was obviously a disconnect between his emotions ( amygdala ) and his front cortex ( reasoning). This is a common dilemma for anyone struggling with addictions. The majority of the time they know right from wrong but the fear of exposing themselves keeps them stuck. Or the fear of dealing with their own pain and anguish without a substance, keeps them stuck. People underestimate the power of the drug and the behaviour that goes with it, that tells them “just for today I need to do this” ..
Most fear the shame that comes with disclosing their struggles. Especially for people in high functioning jobs. They see that disclosing the addiction will potentially ruin their careers. And there is a certain truth to their fears. It is fair to say the majority of people assume that when someone shows vulnerability, they are showing that they are not strong; that they are weak and untrustworthy and that they are unstable and unreliable. When they are “caught”, People around them feel duped and hold resentments for their own feelings if vulnerability or naivety which then just confirms the above. Imagine what would happen If employers didn’t reprimand or penalize a person from disclosing their illness….and offered them support instead ? How many more people do you think would come forward and ask for help and then actually get it ?
Today there is still a huge stigma if a police officer comes forward and says ” I have a substance abuse problem” or “I am feeling anxious or depressed “…. Officers have said many times, “I can’t or it will compromise my career.” They view this as being a higher risk than the loss of their families. They assume that their Families will be more understanding and forgiving and they have the power to fix those problems. With their actions they can persuade their families to forgive them. They say this is not so easy with their employers. They believe the stigma will follow them forever … Teachers, doctors , lawyers, business owners etc are also many times resistant to reaching out for fear of a repercussion …..and Families won’t report them for fear of many repercussions and so the secret stays a secret until they get caught.
We live in a society that says that If Bob or Joan gets a DUI, you will rarely see it in the paper because it is personal and not our business, but if Bob or Joan the teacher or police officer get a DUI, we want to see it on the front page of our newspapers because we need to know. Sadly, there is a double standard for some people working in public or community settings. This chronic illness should be treated like any other chronic illness and everyone should feel it is ok to access help. There should be no shame to reaching out. There should be greater support to transition these workers back to their jobs and there should be an opportunity to rebuild trust and confidence long term.
There is so much talk about addiction being rampant and people demanding that we have more supports….. and yet every minute of the day people are putting themselves and others at risk, because they fear disclosing the truth to their employers and families that they need help. Sometimes everyone in the work environment knows and says nothing . Sometimes the family knows what is going on and says nothing. Denial and enabling is also rampant.
It is crazy to wrap our head around the fact that for many Recovery appears scarier then potentially losing it all in active addiction. Why is that ???
What can we as a society do better to help someone with an addiction and mental health concerns ?
What do employers need to do better?
What do employers need to assume in certain high risk jobs ?
What support do the families need to help their loved well get well and be well?
If your an employee who needs our help, please call 905-523-8369. There is a better way to get a return on investment on your health and wellness without compromising your career.
If your an employer, please call there is a better way to get a return on investment for your employees. Replacing them costs $$, time and effort and can send a poor message to fellow employees. Let us help you to help them ❤️.