What Happens to My Job if I Attend Rehab?

What Happens to My Job if I Attend Rehab?

Why Going To Rehab Is The Best Option To Seek Treatment For Substance Abuse

Risks Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse

Drug addiction, which is medically referred to as a substance use disorder, is an incredibly serious health condition that generally warrants treatment at American addiction centers. Particularly with more severe addictions or substance abuse issues, the risk of irreversibly harming your physical health through frequent drug abuse will only grow larger the longer you delay addiction recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, these risks can range from everything from lowered IQ to bowel decay to permanent brain, liver, lung, or kidney damage.

Aside from those medical reasons to be wary of substance use disorders, there’s also the risk of falling prey to the overdose epidemic, particularly with strong drugs like opiates or any street drug that could be tainted with dangerously powerful fentanyl. There’s also the risk of irreversible legal or physical consequences from engaging in dangerous behaviors like drunk driving or impulsive sexual encounters.

On the mental health side, the longer you continue your drug and alcohol abuse, the more psychologically entrenched your destructive patterns will become, making addiction recovery harder and harder to achieve. Co occurring disorders will also have a chance to worsen into an increasingly complex and serious medical condition.

Though many people delay seeking treatment until they have reached a “rock bottom” following life events that are so catastrophic that they feel as if they have no choice but to go to drug rehab, treatment options and outcomes are generally more positive for those who begin the treatment process earlier in their addiction.

Benefits Of Addiction Treatment

American addiction centers can help you deal with any co occurring disorders that may have fueled your addiction issues, thus likely improving your work performance and productivity as well as your overall mental health and well-being.

Addiction treatment can also educate you on healthier coping mechanisms that you can use to deal with painful feelings instead of resorting to substance abuse to cope, and can help you build connections with the recovery community that will lay the groundwork for you to live a happier, sober life long term.

How Do I Find The Right Treatment Center For My Or A Loved One’s Substance Use Disorder?

American addiction centers vary widely in the types of addiction treatment program they offer. Treatment options like intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) may allow for someone to continue working even as they receive addiction treatment. This is because patients are not required to live in the treatment facility itself, instead spending between 6-30 hours in treatment and the rest free to attend to their responsibilities and live their everyday life as they see fit.

Of course, such a treatment center would not be appropriate for someone who needed acute detox for medical reasons, or whose mental illness was severe enough that they were acutely suicidal or at high risk of relapse. But, it may actually be possible for someone with milder issues to receive treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction without even letting their employer know they are going to rehab at all.

For many workers, though, including those whose severe addictions preclude a less restrictive form of treatment, taking leave from work may be a reality if they need to attend drug rehab.

Going To Rehab If You Have A Job

The decision to attend treatment for substance abuse problems is one of the best decisions you can a make if you are struggling with a substance use disorder. However, you may also be worried about the professional consequences that may occur if you choose to attend treatment, or about the substantial stigma that can come with this diagnosis. Since addiction is one of the most stigmatized conditions in the world, these fears are clearly not groundless.

Luckily, though, federal law protects the rights and privacy of people struggling to control their drug or alcohol use if those people are dedicated to seeking treatment and to following the correct protocol when procuring appropriate treatment options. To learn more about what is and is not required of you and of your employers if you are thinking of taking time off work for going to rehab, you can read through our guide below.

Can I Be Fired For Going To Rehab For Drug And Alcohol Addiction?

Though fear of getting fired for going to American addiction centers is one of the biggest reasons that those struggling with addiction delay entering a rehab program, the fact that addiction is a widely recognized medical condition means that certain legal protections do apply to it. The moment you enter addiction recovery and stop your drug or alcohol use, your past drug use becomes a federally protected disability that you cannot legally be penalized for.

However, while you generally cannot be fired for your past drug use or fired for going to rehab, you can get fired due to do a current substance use disorder that interferes with your job performance. If you are currently in the midst of an active addiction to illegal drugs, you are inherently less trustworthy due to your criminal behavior, and thus you can rightly and legally be fired.

Your employer will also likely have legitimate grounds for your termination if your drug or alcohol use is impairing your work performance or posing a threat to other employees, and be aware that company policy could likely prohibit the use of even legal drugs while in the workplace.

Employers maintain their right to a drug free workplace at all times, which is why the administration of drug tests to scan for illegal drugs are permitted, and why you may be liable for termination if you fail such a drug test. However, you may also be referred to a treatment provider or an employee assistance program and given the chance to attend addiction treatment instead depending on your workplace’s specific policy.

Note, though, that required drug tests cannot be used to fire any employee based on any legitimate prescription drugs they are taking, even if those drugs are also substances of abuse, such as some opiate painkillers and stimulant drugs used for attention deficit disorder. This also applies even to drugs like methadone or Suboxone, which are sometimes used to facilitate addiction recovery.

Furthermore, even if your employer never obtains proof that you have an addiction and thus will not be able to fire you for your addiction per se, they may be able to fire you due to its consequences. Over time, substance use disorders are likely to result in declining physical and mental health and thus to increased absenteeism and declining work performance, all of which can be detrimental to your career and put your job security at risk. In the long run, maintaining a sober life is the best way protect your financial livelihood as well as your more holistic well-being.

What Protections Do I Have If I Seek Treatment For Drug Or Alcohol Use?

How To Use The Family And Medical Leave Act To Seek Substance Abuse Treatment

Federal law protects the job security of those seeking treatment for any serious medical condition, including substance use disorders, with a policy of the United States Department of Labor called the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.

FMLA also allows for leave based on the serious medical condition of an immediate family member or the birth of or new adoption of a child, and your employer is required to continue providing you with health insurance coverage during whatever leave you end up taking.

FMLA leave can be taken for a period of up to twelve weeks, which will refresh yearly, meaning that you may be able to use this act more than once if you need multiple rounds of addiction treatment after a relapse. Twelve weeks adds up to around 84 days, so a 30 or 60 day stay in an addiction treatment facility would likely fit into that window.

The act is applicable to employees of all private employers with more than 50 employees in any 75 mile radius, employees of all public agencies, and employees of all public or private elementary schools. Eligible employees must have been working at the place in question for at least 12 months and must have worked 1,250 hours or more total.

However, you should be aware that FMLA leave will generally be unpaid leave, unless your employer requires you or unless you choose to take paid leave that you have accrued concurrently. You also will likely be required to submit documentation of your condition, such as through a doctor’s note or proof of your enrollment in a treatment facility.

It’s also possible that you may be asked by your employer to sign a return to work agreement involving stipulations on your behavior after you have completed treatment and rejoined the workplace. For example, you may be asked to refrain from all substance use and required to submit to a regular drug test to prove that you are clean, or to submit proof of your continual attendance at treatment appointments or twelve step meetings to solidify your sobriety.

Provided that those requirements are met, your employer will be required to reinstate you to your former position or to a position that is virtually equivalent in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions upon your return. Besides those conditions that they set forth to ensure a safe and drug free workplace, it will be illegal for them to discriminate against you because of your health history.

Exceptions to the reinstatement clause may also be made if you are a key employee, one of the highest paid ten percent of employees at your location. If you are a key employee and your employer also determines that reinstating you would cause them undue injury, they may not be required to give you your job back after your leave for addiction treatment, though they must notify you when you request that leave that this will be the case.

How To Use The Americans With Disabilities Act When Seeking Addiction Treatment

The Americans with Disabilities Act is designed to protect qualified employees who suffer from “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,” or who have suffered from such an impairment in the past.

This act allows you to request reasonable accommodations for such a condition, including drug or alcohol dependence or another mental health problem, potentially including medical leave for treatment at American addiction centers. While you are not guaranteed leave under this act, you may be able to ask for it as one of the reasonable accommodations the law allows for.

And, again, unless your substance use disorder has been causing problems at work (eg, if you have been coming to work high or drunk), this act will prevent your employer for penalizing you for your drug addiction after you seek treatment, or for using your own personal vacation time to attend rehab.

Unlike the Family and Medical Leave Act, this statute comes with no minimum tenure, and your place of employment only needs to have 15 employees (or be a state or local government agency). Similarly to FMLA leave, your employer will be required to reinstate you upon your return unless that return would pose an undue hardship to them, in which case they will still be required to consider reassigning you to any vacant position that you are still qualified for.

Even if you do not require complete leave, you may qualify for other reasonable accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act. For instance, you may be able to arrange a modified work schedule to accommodate your attendance at an outpatient treatment program or regular twelve step meetings, or a part-time schedule to lower your workload and stress levels as you deal with physical withdrawals or the draining psychological work of addiction treatment.

Is My Privacy Protected If I Disclose My Substance Abuse Issues To An Employer?

Both the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities act contain provisions that protect your privacy if you disclose a drug or alcohol problem. However, you should be aware that limited exceptions may be permitted, as details of your conditions may be disclosed to your supervisors if it is deemed essential to your health or performance, as well as to first aid personnel in the case of an emergency or to government officials who are investigating your employer’s compliance with the aforementioned statutes.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, also prevents your treatment providers from disclosing any information about your addiction treatment to others, including your employer. However, there are some exceptions to this act as well, such as if a patient represents an imminent threat to themselves or others, or represents a threat to public health or safety.

Outside of these exceptions, though, it will likely be up to you choose how much about your substance use disorder and your time spent going to rehab you reveal to your other coworkers and colleagues. Though you should not be ashamed of seeking help for your medical condition, you may find it more comfortable or appropriate to refer only to non-specific health issues rather than reveal your full history with substance use disorder, and it is within your rights to do so.

How To Approach My Employer About Going To Rehab?

If you are considering going on medical leave at any American addiction centers to address your drug and alcohol use, you want to start by approaching your human services or human resources department about your plans to receive treatment. FMLA and ADA policies also require that notice of an impending leave or other necessary accommodation be given to your employer as early as is reasonable, so, if you have made a definitive decision to contact a treatment facility, time is of the essence.

When approaching your employer, you should be as honest and straightforward as possible, and should already have your rehab program lined up so that they know that you are serious about wanting to seek help. You should also try to approach your boss or supervisor first, rather than letting them hear of the problem second-hand through potentially toxic gossip.

Dealing With Treatment Costs While Attending Rehab

Treatment options and their affordability will depend on your individual budget and on your health insurance provider, which may be associated with your current employer. However, most providers should recognize your addiction as a serious health condition and be able to cover at least a portion of your addiction treatment. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) actually makes it illegal for large group health plans to offer less favorable treatment to people struggling with drug addiction or other mental health issues than offered those struggling with physical health problems.

Additionally, some workplaces offer an employee assistance program that could be applicable to employees suffering from substance use disorders. This is a voluntary program that can offer services like counseling, treatment referrals, assessments, education, and and consultation to employees dealing with health or personal issues.

Such a service could help connect you or a loved one with treatment centers and to manage their emotions as they deal with addiction. Some American addiction centers will also be able to work with you on payment plans or offer reduced rates or treatment scholarships if you are having trouble paying for treatment options on your own.

Seeking Addiction Treatment For Yourself Or A Loved One

Using The Florida Marchman Act To Force Someone Into Addiction Treatment

If someone who you care about is clearly a danger to themselves or others due to their substance abuse but is unwilling to commit to treatment on their own, you may be able to use the Florida Marchman Act to legally compel them to enter treatment at certain American addiction centers.

Location of this person must be in whatever Florida county you intend on filing a Marchman Act petition in, and you must be able to prove before a judge that they will be a danger to themselves or to others if they are not compelled to seek help from an appropriate treatment provider.

You will also have to pay for this treatment yourself, so you will want to check with your insurance provider to find treatment centers that will accord with your financial as well as medical requirements. Any immediate family member of the person in question, a treatment provider who is familiar with their condition, or any three unrelated individuals can file one of these Marchman Act petitions.

However, invoking the Marchman Act can be an emotionally fraught and financially taxing process, especially if you enlist the guidance of a lawyer to assist you in filing your petition. Thus, we recommend that this only be used as a last resort if a loved one is unwilling to consider treatment centers on their own and other attempted interventions have failed.

Contact Our Helpline Today

To learn more about the Marchman Act process and how you can connect your loved one with an appropriate treatment provider, feel free to contact one of our skilled intervention counselors, who are experts in addiction medicine and in American addiction centers as well as in the Florida Marchman Act. You can call us anytime at 833-497-3808 or contact us online anytime here.