How to Go to Rehab and Keep Your Job
Struggling with drugs or alcohol can ruin your life. For most of us, the only way to stop the cycle of relying on substances is to take a break and go to rehab. And, while some 42.3 million Americans qualify as having a substance use disorder, only about 11% of those ever seek out rehab. Here, barriers like careers, family care, stigma, and funding clinical care can call get in the way. That’s especially true if you’re a professional with a reputation to uphold, where you might feel that calling in sick for a month to deal with a substance use disorder will get you fired.
Fortunately, the United States has a lot of law in place to protect you when you do seek out rehab. In addition, you’ll have the option to attend rehab without quitting work – which means you’ll never have to take time off. The following article reviews your options, and which might be a best-fit for your circumstances.
Consider Your Options
Most people think of rehab and immediately consider an inpatient clinic, where you stay for 30+ days to receive round-the-clock care. That’s one way to get treatment. However, you can also opt for outpatient care.
Inpatient Care – 30+ days at a rehab clinic, typically out of state where you’ll have privacy. Costs are high and only about 15-20% is covered by most insurance programs. However, you get one-on-one care, a break from stress and triggers, and the ability to fully focus on recovery. This option is often recommended for people with severe addictions.
Intensive Outpatient Care – Intensive Outpatient Care or IOP allows you to attend rehab for a few hours a day, after work, so you can continue going to work for the duration. This option allows you to avoid asking for time off, so you don’t have to tell your boss anything. In addition, outpatient care can be as effective as inpatient care – providing you stick to it and attend throughout the whole program. IOP also means you’ll stay in the same environment as before – which means that if you frequently drink or use at work, it may not be the best option for you. However, you can pair outpatient treatment with staying in a sober home for maximum support and a change of lifestyle, without having a gap in work.
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You’re Legally Protected
While you might not want to take a 30-day break from work, you are legally protected. Sick leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) all mean you are protected in case you seek out medical care for rehab. The ACA classifies substance use disorders as a temporary disability – firing you because of one is against the law. Of course, if you’ve explicitly signed away those rights or your employer catches you using on the job, that’s another story. The FMLA also allows you to take up to 12 weeks of free time for an undisclosed medical reason – with nothing more than a doctor’s note that doesn’t have to say what you’re taking the time off for.
Coincidentally, if your employer has over 50 employees, they’re also legally obligated to offer assistance and insurance covering rehab. This means you can go to HR, discuss your problems with substance abuse, and have them help you move into a program. You might not want to do so, as it may impact your reputation or your long-term standing in the company because stigma does still exist, but you do have the right.
In addition, Obamacare and FMLA both allow you to apply for short-term disability through your employer. You’ll have to request medical leave, sit through decisions, and possibly fight them. However, you don’t have to reveal why you’re requesting leave or temporary disability. It’s up to your medical professionals to determine if you need it, not your employer.
Keep in Mind that Disclosure Isn’t Required
If you’re afraid you’ll lose your job or reputation at your job for going to rehab, you don’t have to disclose. You never have to tell your employer why you’re taking sick or medical leave of any kind. In addition, if you’re going to rehab in the weekends or at night, you can keep this to yourself. You never have to tell your employer what goes on in your personal life. In fact, if they ask, you can report them to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Of course, your employer may be able to help. Many offer assistance with rehab, can offer ongoing rehabilitation programs, can offer financial assistance, etc.
However, whether or not you disclose is up to you and the amount of privacy you need.
If you’re struggling with drugs and alcohol, getting help is the best thing you can do for your future – with or without your job. But there’s no reason why you can’t go to rehab and keep your job.
What if I Can’t Take Time Off Work?
You definitely can take time off work. You’re legally protected by FMLA, which allows you up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off. If you stack that with sick days, you can likely limit that to about 3 weeks of unpaid time off. Your employer isn’t legally allowed to fire you for doing so.
What if I Can’t Afford Unpaid Time Off Work?
You can always take the route of going to an intensive outpatient rehab center. This allows you to go to work during the day and attend rehab at night or during the weekends. These programs are typically 3-6 hours per day – so your life will be busy. However, you will get the care you need without taking unpaid time off work. And, if you mix IOP with a sober living home, you can get most of the benefits of inpatient care without taking off work. Alternatively, you could apply for FMLA and temporary disability to ensure you receive some money to make up for the missed paychecks. However, this process can be quite lengthy.
If you or a loved one is struggling, there are always options. Whether that’s taking the hit and taking unpaid time off work or committing to a busy month and going to therapy while you work, you can mix rehab and your job. Most importantly, your employer isn’t allowed to fire you for getting treatment for a substance use disorder, even if you disclose that disorder to them.
If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. 10 Acre Ranch also has specialty tracks like our pet friendly drug rehab and couples substance abuse treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.