Can I Still Work While In Rehab?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 20, 2023

Attending an addiction treatment facility does not mean that you have to give up your job. There are laws in place that protect people who need to take time off of work for treatment. Some drug rehab programs also offer options so that clients can continue working while in treatment.

Can I Work While In Rehab?

When people are in need of addiction treatment, they may face considerable barriers to attending a treatment program.

One of those barriers could be their job. People may have lost many things to addiction and do not want to also lose their jobs. There are ways to receive addiction care without losing your job.

Can I Work While Attending Rehab?

Yes, you may be able to work while you attend a rehabilitation program for drug or alcohol abuse. There are a few ways in which you can do this.

Working While In An Inpatient Program

Many people facing addiction have careers that they want to preserve. In some cases, an employer may require that an employee receive treatment in order to keep their job.

One way that you can work while attending a treatment program is to choose a rehab center that has a program specifically for working professionals.

Other rehab centers offer treatment programs that allow people to work while undergoing medical detox or inpatient treatment.

They do this by allowing time for working clients to:

  • complete work on laptops that they bring to the treatment center
  • access the internet for work purposes
  • take phone calls for business
  • attend virtual meetings

These programs often designate specific times for completing work responsibilities, usually on the understanding that allotted treatment times should remain distraction-free.

Working While In An Outpatient Program

There are many rehab centers that offer outpatient treatment for clients who don’t need an inpatient or residential treatment program.

Outpatient treatment occurs at three levels: a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), and a standard outpatient program.

Outpatient levels of care generally provide greater flexibility, allowing clients to receive care while also maintaining their work schedules.

They may do this by providing treatment hours during the evening or weekend.

Treatment Alternatives That Allow You To Work

If you are unable to access the options mentioned above, you still have treatment options available to you, but these may be outside the traditional approaches of rehab centers.

One option is that you could go to peer support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) that lead members through the 12-step recovery process.

Another option is to find an addiction therapist who can provide evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

These options may not involve a rehab center, but you would be able to receive treatment while continuing to work.

Do I Have To Work While Receiving Addiction Treatment?

If you are seeking addiction treatment that allows you to work because you are afraid of losing your job, it’s important to know that you may not have to work while attending a rehab program.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) helps ensure that people can take a leave of absence from their jobs (unpaid) to attend to medical needs or family emergencies.

Also, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides for addiction treatment for people facing a substance use disorder.

If you think these may apply to your situation, look into them so that you can return to your job after completing an inpatient or residential treatment program.

Informing Employers About Treatment

If your treatment will affect your ability to make it to work as scheduled, it is important to let your employer know.

Also, consider disclosing your substance abuse treatment even if treatment won’t interfere with your work.

There is always a possibility that withdrawal or other symptoms linked to early recovery could affect your workplace performance, and disclosure offers protection to employees.

Make sure that 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 or human resources (HR) department.

If your employer comes to you first with concerns about a decline in your work performance, it is important to be honest about your addiction, to protect you from being terminated.

Find Substance Abuse Treatment Today

If you or a loved one is facing addiction, call Addiction Resource today. We have more information about your recovery options, the treatment process, and how to get started.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 20, 2023
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