Should I Tell A Prospective Employer About My Addiction And Recovery?

This really comes down to a personal decision.  Our program is intended to develop “a manner of living that demands rigorous honesty,” but it is also an anonymous program.  The “rigorous honesty” demanded is self-honesty.  There are, without question, situations where being too open about our past can destroy careers and create chaos in other ways.  Those situations are not beneficial to our recovery either.  In some circumstances, it may be best to keep things to ourselves.  Some employers simply won’t hire people in recovery — especially in early recovery.  A newcomer of my acquaintance ran into that just a couple of days ago.  With the job market being what it is, possible employment opportunities can be few and far between.

Perhaps the best way to address this is simply to not offer information.  If it is a drug-free workplace and they want us to take a drug test, that shouldn’t pose a problem (assuming that we’re clean and not on methadone or other drug maintenance).  Direct questions about health issues are not permitted, but we need to be careful.  If we lie and are found out, we will almost certainly be fired.  That would eliminate any chance of good references from that employer, and could impact our employability in other ways.

The Internet is a major issue.  If we’re determined to remain anonymous, we need to avoid recovery-related Facebook groups, and all references to our issues in all social media.  If we participate in online recovery forums, we must be extremely careful to use pseudonyms and avoid photographs and other identifying data.  It may be difficult or impossible to keep the secret regardless of our preferences, if we have been careless in the past.

My policy over the years has always been complete honesty.  If someone can’t handle who I am, I want to know it immediately, not months or years down the road.  I make part of my living writing about alcoholism, addiction and recovery.  In that context my history is clearly a plus, not a disadvantage.  However, my other job is in the security industry.  From my beginnings with the company, my employers have known about my past as an alcoholic and addict.  On occasion, I have been able to use my knowledge to help out with the issues of other employees.  But what if I had lied, early on?  What changes would I have had to make in my life, over the years, to keep the secret?  Would I be a senior manager in an industry that requires trust?  Would I have been able to take part in the recovery community as I have?  Would I be the same person?  Would I even be sober?

There’s no cut-and-dried answer to this question, but honesty has one big thing going for it.  It’s less likely to come back, months or years later, to smack you upside the head.

Do social networking sites turn teens into substance abusers?

(CBS) Is social networking turning America's youth into substance abusers?

Teens who use Facebook and other social networking sites on a daily basis are three times as likely to drink alcohol, twice as likely to use marijuana, and five times more likely to smoke tobacco than teens who don't frequent the sites.

“The findings in this year's survey should strike Facebook fear into the hearts of parents of young children and drive home the need for parents to give their children the will and skill to keep their heads above the water of the corrupting cultural currents their children must navigate,” study author Joseph A. Califano, Jr., founder and chairman of Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse, said in a written statement.

Seventy percent of teens spend time on these sites every day, according to the survey. That's 17 million 12- to 17- year-olds….

Read the rest here.

Sorry, I don't buy it.  I have no doubt that the statistics are accurate; it's simply that I don't agree with the interpretation.

What do we know about kids who don't use drugs, as opposed to those who do?

  1. They tend to be active in all sorts of ways, from athletics to social organizations.
  2. They tend to be better students, which implies that they spend more time on schoolwork, both in the form of homework and other outside means of education such as research for book reports, projects, and general outside reading.
  3. They tend to come from stable families.
  4. In short, they tend to have lives that are fulfilling, and I believe that leads them to spend less time on social sites.

I'm no expert on population studies, nor a sociologist, but I can see when it looks like people are taking an easy shot, rather than doing a little critical thinking about other reasons for statistics, which are only numbers, with no inherent meaning.  The meanings are ascribed by the interpreters, and they are, in turn, informed by their ideas, prejudices, and agendas.

It may be true that exposure to these influences moves a small percentage of teenage social site participants in the direction of excess — it probably is.  But we're talking about 70% of teens, here.  According to another study, by age 18 more than 70% of teens have tried alcohol at least once.¹  Furthermore, simply stating that some of them are x number of times “as likely” to use alcohol, marijuana or other drugs fails to take into account how many times they used them, how long they used them, whether it became a problem, and a number of other factors.

I have no problem with studies and their use in determining priorities for fund allocation, areas of concentration, and so forth.  I do have a problem with interpretations that are not put into context with other pertinent data, or skewed to make a point.  Ascribing a cause and effect relationship to these figures is like explaining addiction as being the result of “bad blood.”

This, in turn, is only my opinion, but it's based on a intimate knowledge of addicts and addiction.  I wonder if that's true of those who simply study us.

¹Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2008).Underage Alcohol Use: Findings from the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.