Employment After Addiction Treatment
Many people avoid getting treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction because they fear doing so could hurt their career or prevent them from getting hired by future employers. However, you could be doing yourself a bigger disservice by not getting the help you need.
Studies show those who got treatment for addiction were more likely to keep their jobs or even get a better one.
If you or your loved one are concerned about losing your job by enrolling in a treatment program, it’s important to understand that your choice to get help is protected by various laws and acts that provide job security. By choosing to go to treatment, you will not only be enhancing your career opportunities by getting sober, but your overall quality of life.
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Talking to Your Employer About Rehab
Whether or not you realize it, addiction may be affecting your performance at work. You might find yourself falling behind on responsibilities, skipping shifts or being unable to focus. When it comes to letting your employer know about your decision to go to rehab, you should emphasize that you’re prepared to take the necessary steps to get help.
Be as transparent as possible about your willingness to seek help.
The more honest and upfront you are about the situation, the more your employer can assist you in the process.
Make sure all of your work projects are taken care of.
Tie up any loose ends and coordinate for your boss and/or coworkers to take care of any tasks while you’re gone.
Tell your coworkers you’re taking a leave of absence.
If you’re concerned about letting your coworkers know you’re attending a treatment facility, simply tell them you’re taking a leave of absence. You are entitled to your privacy when getting treatment for an addiction.
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What Protections Am I Provided At Work?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals in addiction recovery from being discriminated against in the workplace. This means that your employer can’t fire you based on your decision to attend rehab. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against at work after deciding to get treatment, you can file a charge of discrimination against your employer with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
And, for those who qualify, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take 12 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave due to specified family or medical reasons within a 12-month period. This includes the ability to receive treatment at a rehabilitation facility for drug and alcohol use. Your employer is required to maintain confidentiality regarding any information they receive about your addiction or treatment.
Financing Addiction Treatment
Some employers offer employee assistance programs, which can be used to receive counseling or referrals to rehab facilities. You should also check with your health insurance provider to figure out what your insurance will cover. In order for your health insurance provider to cover substance abuse treatment, you will need to prove medical necessity.
Criteria For Proving Medical Necessity
- You have a substance-related disorder, as defined by a DSM-5 diagnosis.
- You are strong enough mentally to benefit from rehab.
- You have shown a pattern of moderate to severe substance use and/or addictive disorder. This is displayed in your social and familial life, as well as your educational or occupational performance.
- You present a serious, imminent physical harm to yourself or others directly related to current abuse of substances, such as medical and physical instability, which would limit your ability to get treatment in a less-intensive setting.
- One of the following must be met to satisfy criterion E:
- Despite a recent (i.e., the past 3 months) intervention by professionals, you are continually unable to maintain sobriety, or
- You are living in a severely dysfunctional living environment which doesn’t allow for effective rehabilitation treatment at a less-intensive level of care and alternative living situations are not available or clinically appropriate, or
- There is evidence that you are not likely to respond at a less intensive level of care.
- Your condition is appropriate for residential treatment, as there is not a need to detox at an inpatient hospital. You do not have significant co-morbid condition(s).
- You demonstrate motivation to manage symptoms or make behavioral changes, as shown by attending treatment sessions, completing therapeutic tasks and adhering to a medication regimen or other requirements of treatment.
- You are capable of developing skills to manage symptoms or make behavioral change.
If insurance doesn’t cover your treatment costs, there are many options available for people who need extra assistance. Most treatment centers can work out a payment plan or find other ways to help you pay.
Getting The Help You Need
If you’ve been avoiding going to rehab for fear of losing your job or having nothing to come back to, rest assured that there are steps you can take to ensure that your life is even better than it was before. Although it’s a difficult process, following the steps above can help you to achieve a successful experience, both during and after rehab.
Remember, you’re more likely to keep your job or get a better one after seeking help, and you’ll return to work even healthier and happier than before. Contact a treatment provider to learn more about available rehabilitation options today.
Ashish Bhatt, MD, MRO
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Learn about Dr. Ashish Bhatt
Dr. Bhatt has been Addiction Center's Medical Content Director for more than three years, providing his expertise to ensure quality and accuracy.
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Expert in adult and child psychiatry
Over 20 years of professional experience