When a person is in need of addiction treatment, they consider all the reasons they should go to rehab. They also come up with several reasons not to go.
Additionally, there are many different factors that end up being barriers to substance abuse treatment, despite the significant number of facilities across the country.
One factor that ends up being a significant problem to those in need of substance abuse treatment is trying to figure out how to attend an inpatient treatment program and still continue to work.
Can I Work While Attending Rehab?
Contrary to stereotypes, most of the people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction appear normal and have jobs. Over three-quarters of those struggling with addiction are employed.
Fear is another factor for people in need of rehab who have jobs. They are afraid that their employer will not give them several weeks off work to attend a treatment program, or they will face discrimination as a result of seeking substance abuse treatment.
However, any form of discrimination by an employer as a result of revealing you have been diagnosed with the disease of addiction, and are seeking treatment, is illegal.
Not to mention, people able to partake in addiction treatment are likely to return to their jobs, increase productivity, and have increased potential to be considered for advancement.
Can I Get Fired For Going To Rehab?
According to the law, both the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are designed to protect people struggling with addiction from being discriminated against and receive necessary treatment for addiction.
As soon as a person enters a substance abuse treatment program, the ADA secures your job and ensures that you legally cannot be terminated due to addiction, treatment, or absence at work due to either. If job loss occurs, a person can sue their employer for discrimination.
The FMLA requires that employees (with specific qualifications) be allowed to take up to twelve weeks of leave for a number of different medical reasons, including addiction. This leave is not required to be a paid leave unless the employer decides to provide paid leave of absence.
Some of the qualifications for FMLA are that a person is employed full-time and not a contract employee. However, some people are not able to go months without income.
A very important side note for employees to consider, it is mandatory for employers to keep medical issues of their employees confidential. This is important for employees who are seeking substance abuse treatment that do not want their co-workers, colleagues, or supervisors to know.
Alternative Addiction Treatment Options
For individuals who are considering addiction rehab programs, there are more than just inpatient or residential facilities available. Programs that ask for a time commitment, away from home and work do not always work for people with careers and other commitments.
Therefore, if a person does not have what is considered a severe or long-standing addiction to drugs or alcohol, some alternatives to inpatient or residential treatments include:
- intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- outpatient addiction treatment program
- substance abuse counselor one-on-one
- 12-step meetings (AA, NA)
Informing Employers About Treatment
If your treatment will affect your ability to make it to work as scheduled, it is important to communicate with your employers. Since they are required to protect your medical conditions, being honest and clear about your addiction and treatment plan should only help you.
Also, consider disclosing your substance abuse treatment even if treatment won’t interfere with attendance. There is always a possibility that withdrawal or other symptoms linked to early recovery could affect workplace performance, and disclosure offers protection to employees.
Make sure you review your employer’s policies on substance use, addiction treatment, medical leave policies, and insurance information. Once you’ve reviewed them, the next step is to speak to your manager, employer, or human resources (HR) department.
If your employer comes to you first with concerns about work performance decline, it is important to be honest with them about your addiction, to protect you from being terminated.
Returning To Work After Treatment
Some employers will require an employee who has taken time off work to attend an inpatient treatment program to adhere to the conditions outlined in what is referred to as a Return-to-Work-Agreement (RTWA).
These RTWA documents are created with all invested parties present and participating, and have to follow the laws that safeguard the employee and won’t violate company policy.
Some of the requirements of an RTWA may include the employee agreeing to:
- drug screening/testing
- being totally drug and alcohol-free, unless prescribed by a doctor
- being monitored by the company
- paying for monitoring
- being held accountable for work issues that are not a result of substance abuse
- abide by the suggestions outlined by the substance abuse treatment professionals
RTWA’s protect both the employee and employer. If an employee abides by the RTWA, they cannot be terminated for anything related to their addiction. Conversely, if an employee does not adhere to the RTWA, the employer has documented authorization to terminate the employee.
Seeking Substance Abuse Treatment
Fear of losing a job should not keep a person from getting the help they need. Whether a person needs to enter into an RTWA and attend an inpatient or residential treatment facility, or if they are seeking outpatient options and continue to work, employees are protected.
We can help you navigate these systems and find the right treatment for you or your loved one. Our specialists are trained and available to help, reach out to us today.
Published on September 1, 2020
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) - Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States - Results from the 2018 NSDUH