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How to Keep your Job Before, During and After Rehab

According to the U.S Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 76% of people with substance abuse problems are employed. The unfortunate fact is that a wide range of employees avoid getting into rehab in order not to lose their jobs. The U.S Commission on Civil Rights states that 10 to 25 % of the American workforce has worked under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The reality is that postponing treatment can be even more damaging than hurting your career. Seeking treatment is crucial for an employee’s professional success and their job is protected under the FMLA Act.

Before Treatment

Get educated on your rights

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect addicted employees from discrimination and help them get into treatment without the risk of losing their jobs. With the help of the ADA, you can not be fired for being away in a rehabilitation center, even if you miss work. These regulations apply to all state and local government employers and private companies with 15 or more employees.

The FMLA is a federal law that allows employees to take job protected, unpaid leave from work for a specified period of time. Under this act, employees can take 12 weeks of medical leave for issues that include addiction disorders with full benefits. The employed is not obliged to pay you wages but is required to pay for all your other benefits. These benefits include health insurance, retirement benefits, and profit sharing. You get full protection over your job and you are guaranteed that an available job position will be waiting for you upon your return. 

In order to get approved for an FMLA, your company must meet certain criteria. These criteria include a workforce of at least 50, working within a 75-mile radius. Moreover, you must also have worked at least 12 months and for at least 1250 hours. There are certain positions, such as aerospace employees and teachers that are required to work less hours to become eligible.

If you wish to request a FMLA, you should first notify the human resources department. You are required to provide a 30-day written notice to take an FMLA leave. In some cases, you may also need to deliver a medical document to request this leave and get it approved. You will receive an answer within 5 days from your initial request.

Talk to your employer

Learn about your rights and become familiar with your company’s policy on drugs and alcohol, as well as the insurance and medical leave policies before you see your employer. Make sure you look into your treatment options and talk to your company’s Occupational Health Physician. Talk to your employer about your treatment plan and discuss your rehabilitation choice. If you choose to enroll into an outpatient program, see if you can work your schedule around your outpatient sessions.

Moreover, find out if your company offers Employee Assistance Programs that help employees with personal problems. If there is an EAP available, you may use it to receive counseling or referrals to rehab facilities. Don’t forget to check with your health insurance provider to find out what kind of coverage you have. Depending on your health insurance provider, the amount of coverage you are entitled to may vary.


During Treatment

During treatment, don’t forget that your employer must maintain confidentiality regarding any information they receive about your addiction. Addiction treatment it’s a difficult process and there are many obstacles along the way. Make your treatment a success so that you can return to your workplace healthier and happier.

Get better by working hard and always keeping your end goal in mind. Be inspired by other success stories, and know that you can achieve this goal with your own determination and motivation. Make your recovery one of your main priorities and integrate it with your daily tasks. Try joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). There, you will be able to communicate and learn from others who have been in a similar position as yourself.

After Treatment

Once you have completed a rehabilitation program, you might be required to meet all the stipulations outlined in a Return-to-Work-Agreement. This written document may include the following requirements:

  • Regular drug testing
  • Complete abstinence from alcohol or drugs
  • Agreement to monitoring of compliance by the company
  • Compliance with all addiction treatment professionals’ recommendations

This document establishes an employer’s expectations for an employee who has completed mandated alcohol or drug treatment. The agreement is developed with the employer, employee, a union representative, Employee Assistance program representative, and in some cases addiction treatment professionals.

In addition, maintain your aftercare in order to achieve long-term recovery. Find community involvement, engage in healthy relationships, and improve current relationships. Make progress in your workplace, keep up the positivity, and excel in your professional life.

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