Will I Lose My Job if I Go to Rehab?

woman concerned about losing her job during rehab

When a person develops an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the course of their life is changed. Left untreated, the effects of addiction grow and can consume all of their time, energy, and resources. Their mental and physical health can deteriorate quickly. Some people face serious legal or financial trouble that impacts their lives for a long time. 

Prolonged drug or alcohol abuse can change the way a person’s body and brain work. It can be difficult–or nearly impossible–for people to overcome an addiction without professional treatment. 

Despite the serious and pervasive consequences of addiction, most people do not get the treatment they need to move past it and live a healthy lifestyle. People may be concerned about the stigma that often surrounds addiction. They may not want to take time away from their families to get the help they need. 

Another common concern about going to rehab is that they may lose their job. Fortunately, there are laws in place that protect people from losing their job while they are seeking addiction treatment. Understanding your rights and how to navigate this process can help you keep your job while you go to rehab.

Can I Keep My Job if I Go to Rehab?

Most of the people living with addiction are also employed. Some surveys estimate that between 10-25% of people who work also struggle with substance use.[1] Employees struggling with substance abuse and addiction are at increased risk of workplace accidents, interpersonal difficulties, decreased productivity, and frequent absences. However, when these individuals get sober, their work performance can improve. For these reasons alone, employers are often motivated to support their employees who live with addiction. 

There are many different levels of care in addiction treatment. Many people participate in outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), or partial hospitalization programs (PHPs). In these types of outpatient programs, it is sometimes possible for people to continue working or to stay connected with their employers as they receive treatment. If you are motivated to stay sober, it is possible to balance work and rehab.

However, some people need to take a leave of absence from work to attend inpatient or residential treatment programs. No matter what level of care a person requires, there are laws in place that protect employees from being fired during their time in addiction treatment. 

What Laws Protect Me So I Don’t Lose My Job if I Go to Rehab?

Two major laws protect people’s employment during addiction treatment. These laws were passed to allow people to seek treatment without the burden of worrying about keeping their job. 

FMLA

The Family Medical Leave Act protects a person’s job while they participate in addiction treatment. There are some stipulations about who is covered by FMLA, including:[2]

  • The company must have at least 50 employees
  • The person must have been working at the company for 12 consecutive months and must have worked at least 1250 hours
  • The person must use the time off to engage in a professional treatment program

The Family Medical Leave Act protects a person’s job for up to 12 weeks. 

ADA

The American Disabilities Act prevents employers from firing or discriminating against employees with addiction. Some employees may meet the criteria for an altered work schedule that allows them to attend treatment or recovery activities, such as12-step meetings. It also protects people who need to take a leave of absence to seek treatment for mental illness or substance abuse.[3] 

If you or someone you love requires addiction treatment, it is important to understand your rights and learn how to take the time away that you need to get the help you need.

What Steps Do I Need to Take to Keep My Job if I Go to Rehab?

Many people feel uncomfortable or anxious about talking to their employer about going to rehab. There is no shame in addiction or getting treatment, but the stigma that often surrounds the condition can affect how people feel about sharing that information with others. There are some steps you can take to get the time away you need without worrying about losing your job for going to rehab.

  1. Get a diagnosis. Talk to your medical provider about getting a formal substance use disorder diagnosis. Your medical team will also recommend a level of care to meet your needs. 
  2. Find the right treatment program. Research local treatment options or get referrals from your insurance company, doctor, or addiction specialists. 
  3. Talk to HR. Tell your HR representative that you need to take a leave of absence to seek addiction treatment.
  4. Communicate. Keep in contact with your manager or HR team about the program’s start and end date, any changes to your program, and your progress.

Getting the help you need may feel overwhelming in the beginning, but after completing addiction treatment, you will have the skills and support you need to live the healthy, fulfilling life you deserve. 

Start Your Recovery Today at Moving Mountains Recovery

If you or someone you love requires addiction treatment, reach out to the staff at Moving Mountains Recovery for information about our holistic, adaptable programs. We offer a range of programs designed to empower you as you recover from addiction.

Don’t wait another day for the treatment you need and deserve. Call today to get started.

References:

  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-SP132-FullTime-2014/NSDUH-SP132-FullTime-2014.pdf
  2. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla
  3. https://adata.org/learn-about-ada
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