Will I Lose My Job If I Go to Treatment?

Jul 15, 2022

The stigma around treatment for substance use remains strong, despite its value in healing individuals, repairing relationships, and restoring careers. Fear over the perceived outcomes of addressing a substance use problem can compel a person to avoid treatment or choose a less-than-adequate form of treatment for the severity of the problem. As you contemplate how to effectively begin recovery work, let’s look at how to seek treatment while protecting your job and career.

Although a person can feel stigmatized by needing treatment, protecting their job and career is within their reach. It’s essential to learn how the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect employees needing treatment for substance use. Putting the time-off request in writing in advance is an important first step. Recognizing how treatment can save your career and protect others on the job are other reasons to seek help in starting recovery now. 

Evaluate how substance use on the job affects you and others.

If you’re currently misusing drugs or alcohol on the job or its use affects you during work hours, it’s essential to find a way to get into recovery. Jobs where the safety of others depends on your judgment makes substance use a high risk. These can be transportation jobs, warehouse or manufacturing positions, or working anywhere in the medical field, in law enforcement, or as a firefighter. In these types of roles, you can be fired for current substance use, especially after that use can be connected to an accident or injury on the job. 

Recognize that your overall well-being is essential. 

Regardless of the potential job outcome, it’s important to focus on your well-being first and foremost. When you recognize that treatment is necessary, it must become a priority for you. That decision will mean making choices to find a program and commit to it, even as other aspects of your life get sidelined. If you feel a position is contributing to your substance use, a change in jobs or fields may be an option. 

Know your rights as an employee.

Protecting your job and career starts with knowing your rights as an employee. Protections are put in place for employees in the U.S. through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA allows eligible employees to enter rehab without losing their jobs. To become eligible, an employee must meet the following criteria.

●    Working for an employer at least 12 months

●    Working a minimum of 1,250 hours over the past 12 months

●    Employment at a site where the company employs 50 or more workers within 75 miles

●    Working for any employer covered under FMLA

Employers covered under FMLA include private-sector employers with 50 or more employees, private or public schools, and any government agency. If you work for an FMLA-covered employer, they are required to notify you about it. It may be included in your employee handbook or new-hire paperwork. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) adds protection for employees going to rehab as well. The ADA considers addiction a disability. It applies to people who are not currently using drugs, and past usage or consequences from substance use are not a factor. The limits are the same as the FMLA. For example, a person currently using drugs and jeopardizing their job function and safety at work are not covered by the ADA. 

Request time off for treatment in advance. 

This step is pivotal for keeping your job while you’re working on your recovery. You’ll want to put your request in writing before you begin treatment. An admission specialist at your treatment center can advise you on how to approach an employer, too. While some employers may allow a person to use accrued vacation time, sick days, or personal time for this request, the FMLA entitles a person to take a 12-week unpaid leave to receive substance use treatment. Keep in mind, that missed work due to substance use is not covered by the FMLA. 

Treatment can be a way to prepare to return to your job successfully.

Taking time off for treatment can serve you in ways that make you a more productive and valuable employee once you return. Part of your recovery work in treatment should be planning for the challenges you will face on the job. Learning healthy coping strategies for dealing with stress, improving communication skills with peers, and creating new healthy eating habits are just a few of the benefits of treatment that will show up in your daily work life. 

Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For more information about the signs of trauma in women or to learn about our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.

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