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  • Employers are required by federal law to protect workers who need a substance abuse treatment program.

    Whether you are working full-time or part-time, you may be concerned about the idea of spending a long time in an inpatient rehab program, away from your job, family members, loved ones, and other commitments. 

    Addiction treatment can actually increase your job performance and general mental health in the long term. With proper communication between you and your employer, you can enter into drug rehab and expect to have your job when you come back.

    Legal Protections For Employees Going To Inpatient Rehab

    If you struggle with substance abuse, you may be concerned about telling your employer you are going to rehab. However, many employees have legal protections when it comes to finding treatment for serious health conditions like drug or alcohol abuse.

    Both you and your employer have steps to follow under these conditions. Following these steps will help ensure that your job is protected.

    Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires eligible employees to get up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for serious health conditions for every 12-month period they are employed.

    Serious health conditions include conditions that require overnight stays in a medical care facility. Rehab treatment facilities are medical care facilities, which means rehab treatment plans generally count as serious health conditions.

    An employer may ask for medical certification from your healthcare provider to make sure your condition needs a medical leave of absence. Certifications related to rehab may include a history of substance abuse issues, or meeting the criteria for a substance use disorder.

    The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers from discriminating against employees based on disabilities they may have. Under these terms, a disability is any physical or mental impairment that interferes with your daily life.

    A substance use disorder (SUD) is classified as a mental health condition. Together, the ADA and FMLA prevent covered employees from being fired for going to rehab. 

    Employers who fall under FMLA and ADA laws can face charges if they are found discriminating against employees under these conditions.

    Talking About Rehab With Your Employer

    Being fit to work benefits both you and your employer. Many employers offer health insurance as part of an employee assistance program. If you feel like you may need to enter rehab, you can talk to your employer to see if your health insurance plan covers rehab. Learn more about using health insurance for drug and alcohol rehab here.

    Most companies also have a human resources department that can help you outline your plan to return to employment after your rehab is done. The HR department can also give you a referral for other resources, such as counseling and support groups.

    Dangers Of Skipping A Rehab Program

    The idea of an inpatient drug rehab program can be intimidating, especially to people who are employed full-time. 

    However, continued drug abuse and drug addiction can be even more harmful to your work life. In the long-term, taking time off work to find a rehab center can make you more productive.

    Poor Work Performance

    Chronic drug or alcohol abuse can impair work performance. You may find it hard to focus if your thoughts are centered around the substances you are taking. Your ability to socialize or communicate with your coworkers and bosses may also decrease.

    Various drugs are known to have side effects that can harm your concentration. You may feel sluggish, anxious, paranoid, disoriented, or even hallucinate due to the substances you’re taking. 

    If a drug test from your employer has a positive result for illicit drugs, you may even lose your job.

    Find Treatment Options To Improve Your Daily Life

    Illegal drug use and abuse can get in the way of your work. Employers may even fire you if they find you unfit to work due to excessive alcohol or drug use. An inpatient treatment program can help you overcome a substance abuse problem and become more fit to work.

    Treatment centers put you in a safe environment where you can focus on recovery. Some rehab facilities allow laptops to be used for parts of the day. If needed, you can find a treatment center that lets you keep up with work obligations in rehab.

    To find the best treatment options available to you, talk to your healthcare provider or contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Employment​​​
    U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division - A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
    U.S. Department of Labor - FMLA Frequently Asked Questions

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 24, 2022
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