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  • Education and awareness are key to combating substance abuse. However, individuals struggling with addiction, or their family members, may be unaware of the resources available.

    Seeking addiction treatment does not have to mean the end of your career. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you’re protected when it comes to your livelihood and alcohol or drug addiction treatment

    Here is a breakdown of addiction in the United States, what FMLA is, and the resources this act provides. 

    Addiction Is A Serious Health Condition

    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 1 in 12 adults had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year. This means that an estimated 20.2 million people in the United States struggled with addiction in 2020. 

    And, as a serious health condition, substance use disorder falls under the purview of FMLA.

    What Is FMLA?

    Passed by President Clinton in 1993, the U.S. The Department of Labor (DOL) instituted the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide balance between the needs of the workplace and the needs of the family/individual. 

    FMLA allows you to have job stability while seeking employer-based healthcare in times of crisis. This act allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave or time off

    Employees receive eligibility for FMLA leave for a number of reasons that may include:

    • birth of a baby 
    • placement of an adoptive/foster child with an employee 
    • caring for a seriously ill family member 
    • caring for an employee’s own personal health 

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is categorized as a disease that affects a person mentally, physically and emotionally. For this reason, addiction qualifies for FMLA and the employee can then safely enter a rehab program. 

    FMLA Eligibility & Resources

    Getting access to the support and resources you or a loved one may need is of vital significance, and FMLA can help make that possible. In order to qualify for FMLA, however, you must meet the following criteria: 

    • you work for a covered employer 
    • you have worked for that employer for a 12-month period or more 
    • you have worked 1,250 hours prior to receiving medical leave

    In order to better understand what a “covered employer” actually is, you must understand the criteria attached to receiving this qualification:

    • It can be any employer within the private sector that has 50 employees working 20+ weeks a year.
    • It can be a local, state, or federal agency.
    • It can be any private, public, or secondary school.

    Even more interesting, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows for individuals with a disability to receive rights as it pertains to their work. Addiction is considered a disability, so this act also helps to protect those struggling with substance abuse. 

    Both federal laws, ADA and FMLA, exist to protect vulnerable individuals at-risk or in crisis. 

    The Connection Between Employment & Treatment 

    The 12 weeks of unpaid leave are designed to help the eligible employees for that amount of time while they attend drug rehab, but no more than that.

    An employer still retains the right to fire an employee if they fail a drug test, but only if it interferes with the essential functions of their job.

    Once an employee meets the established policy and is allowed to take time off of work for medical reasons, the company is likely to receive an employee with improved mental health. 

    Whether it’s alcohol addiction or any other form of substance abuse, the right treatment facility can work wonders for an employee’s home and work life.

    FMLA & Workplace Health Insurance

    FMLA also allows you to use your workplace health insurance. This not only makes treatment affordable and with reasonable accommodations, but also opens the door for either inpatient or outpatient treatment options

    Quality insurance coverage can make all the difference in securing a quality referral to the most aptly suited rehab center. 

    If you or a loved one struggles with substance use, it’s important to seek professional support at a substance abuse treatment program. 

    To learn more about our comprehensive treatment options, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    American Society of Addiction Medicine - Patients with Addiction Need Treatment - Not Stigma
    Legal Information Institute - 29 CFR § 825.119 - Leave for treatment of substance abuse
    Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration - Substance Use & Mental Illness in U.S. Adults
    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - Drug Addiction and Federal Disability Rights Laws Fact Sheet

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on August 22, 2022
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