Going back to work after rehab doesn’t need to be a headache, and there are acts and laws in place to protect you.
Perhaps you’ve been avoiding getting treatment for alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder because you fear it might harm your career, or even prevent you from getting hired by other employers.
This study shows that while substance use is perceived as a major barrier to employment, there is no significant association between the two.
With research showing that 10% to 25% of the workforce in the United States has worked at some point under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, substance abuse does not discriminate.
So, if you or a loved one need help engaging with addiction treatment while also safeguarding your employment prospects, we’ll walk you through some of the ways you are legally protected when choosing to undergo an addiction treatment program. Similarly, getting a job can put added pressure on your sobriety, luckily many treatment programs like the Orange County rehabs that The District partners with have sober living homes in place to make the transition as easy as possible.
Make the right choice rather than trying to cover up your addiction, and you could enhance your career opportunities as well as your overall quality of life once newly sober.
Can I Go to Rehab and Keep My Job?
There are two main ways in which you might be legally protected during addiction recovery:
- ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): The ADA prevents your employer from firing you based solely on your choice to attend rehab. If you feel discriminated against in the workplace after engaging with addiction treatment, you can file a discrimination charge against your employer through the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act): If you qualify for FMLA, you’ll be entitled to take 12 weeks off work unpaid with your job protected for any specified medical or family reasons during any one-year period. This coverage extends to treatment for substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder. Also, your employer must not divulge any information to others about either your addiction, or your subsequent treatment.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Under the ADA, employers can create a work environment that’s completely substance-free and in compliance with federal laws, while at the same time offering protection to workers with alcohol use disorder. The ADA does not consider illicit drug use to qualify you as an “individual with a disability.”
Despite this stance concerning current illicit drug use, the ADA states that employers are not permitted to discriminate against employees for a history of substance abuse.
Generally, employees in recovery may be protected to some extent under ADA, but they will typically be held to the same standards of conduct and performance as their co-workers.
Employees in recovery may be required to meet the same standards of performance and conduct that are set for other employees.
Under the protection of ADA, employers are not permitted to ask potential employees about alcoholism or drug addiction, nor about addiction treatment.
Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act helps you to safeguard your employment status if you need an extended leave of absence, either for a qualifying medical reason, or to care for a family member in line with FMLA regulations.
Alcohol abuse is a qualifying medical reason under FMLA. You will be free to accept treatment in the following circumstances:
- If offered treatment by healthcare provider
- When referred for treatment by healthcare provider
- As part of an EAP (Employee Assistance Program)
To qualify for protection under FMLA, you’ll need to have worked for the company for at least 1250 hours over the course of at least one year. This typically translates to positions of 25 hours per week and above.
Can You Work While in Rehab?
If you have a severe addiction and you need residential rehab, it’s hard to accommodate this around a full-time job. You likely won’t have enough paid leave to cover a 30 to 90-day stint in inpatient rehab, and you may fear losing your job, maybe the only anchor you have to reality.
With an EAP, you can often remain employed while engaging with recovery at the same time.
Beyond this, if you have a mild or moderate addiction, you might find that outpatient treatment still leave you time for work. Whether you choose a regular outpatient program, an IOP (intensive outpatient program), or a PHP (partial hospitalization program), you will be based at home or at a sober living home for the duration of treatment. This means you may be able to slot in your work around scheduled sessions at the treatment center.
However much you value your job, though, don’t let anything get in the way of focusing on your recovery.
Job Opportunities After Rehab
The two most important attributes when you’re looking to get back into work after rehab are hope and perseverance.
If you are looking for new employment, don’t let rejection get you down. Consider each rejection as nothing but a minor blip taking you closer to getting the job you need to thrive in your recovery.
When interviewing for new positions, your recovery should not be the first thing your prospective employer knows about you. Avoid making any reference to this. If probed about gaps in your resume, simply state that you took a sabbatical. This should not be problematic anyway.
Even if you’re tempted to make a change professionally, you should avoid making too many drastic changes in the early phase of recovery.
Although it might be tough, try detaching yourself from the outcome when considering going back to work after rehab, and be mindful as you ease your way back into meaningful employment.
Crucially, be aware of your rights, both with current and prospective employers, and be prepared to stand up for those rights if required.
Contact The District Recovery Community
Perhaps you have been avoiding heading to rehab for fear of repercussions with your employer. Hopefully, today’s guide to going back to work after rehab has shown you things might not be as bad as you imagined.
Even though reintegrating with the workplace can be challenging after recovery, you’ll be a better and more energized version of yourself, and likely to do better at work than ever before. Alternatively, you may find this is the perfect time for a career change, so what’s stopping you?
Here at The District Recovery, we specialize in outpatient treatment programs tailored to your needs and schedule, delivering robust, evidence-based treatment for alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, and co-occurring disorder.
Reach out to the friendly District admissions team and we’ll talk you through what you need to do next to reclaim your life from addiction. Call us right now at 844.287.8506.