If you are wondering how to go to rehab and keep your job, there are laws that can help you. Here, learn about your rights and the resources available to you.
What Are Your Options If You Need Help?
If you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and need help to quit, some options allow you to go to rehab and keep your job. One option you might consider is outpatient treatment. With an outpatient rehab program, you can continue to work while living at home and attending rehab appointments at a clinic or office during the evenings and/or weekends. This level of care is typically a better option if you are in the early stages of addiction and can still function at work.
On the other hand, if you are struggling with a severe drug or alcohol addiction and are having trouble meeting demands at home or work, inpatient rehab may be a better option. Making the choice to seek inpatient treatment will mean leaving your job, at least temporarily, but there are protections in place that can help you learn how to go to rehab and keep your job.
Know Your Rights
It is important that you know your rights if you are looking to go to rehab. The following laws may protect your job:
Under FMLA, you can take time off from work to go to rehab, and your job will not be at risk simply because of your choice to seek treatment. That being said, if you have violated a company policy regarding drug use, you could be terminated, even if you meet FMLA guidelines. Per FMLA requirements, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months, and your work location must have at least 50 employees working within 75 miles for at least 12 months. FMLA also protects you if you work for the government. FMLA allows for 12 weeks of leave over 12 months.
According to the ADA, you might be protected if you work for an organization with 15 or more employees. The ADA provides for reasonable accommodations, such as changes in work schedule or even leave from work, meaning you may be able to take time off from work for treatment under ADA. ADA protects people who suffer from alcoholism, regardless of whether their alcohol addiction is current or historical. The ADA does not protect someone who is currently using illegal drugs, but it does protect those in recovery.
The Rehabilitation Act prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities in federal employment. It may protect you using the same standards that the ADA uses if you are employed through the federal government or in an agency receiving federal funds.
Using Your Insurance or EAP to Find Help
If you are seeking treatment for addiction, your insurance or your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may be able to help. You can contact your insurance provider to determine what services it covers and what providers are in-network.
An EAP program is also an excellent option if it’s available. Employers typically contract with and cover the cost of an EAP program, which can provide you with access to addiction treatment services. EAPs often provide short-term counseling. If you need long-term or inpatient care, they can refer you to the services you need. Your human resources department can provide you with information about accessing EAP services. Some larger organizations may have an EAP provider in-house, but many organizations refer employees to outside providers, such as counseling centers or rehab facilities.
If you choose to resign from your job to attend rehab, COBRA insurance is also an option. It provides the same level of health insurance coverage you had while you were working, but you will be responsible for covering the full costs of insurance premiums. COBRA is meant to be a temporary option.
At The Recovery Village, we take some of the financial stress out of the equation by offering a free online insurance verification tool. Simply fill out the form, and we will tell you what services your insurance covers and what you can expect to pay out-of-pocket for treatment. If you have additional questions about finding services or paying for rehab, contact us today; we are happy to help.
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The Cost of Alcohol & Drug Rehab
The cost of drug and alcohol rehab varies depending on where you go for treatment, how long you spend in treatment and whether you choose inpatient or outpatient rehab.
The typical inpatient rehab center can cost from $2,000 to $25,000 per month. Outpatient rehab is considerably less expensive because it does not include room and board costs, food or amenities. Your out-of-pocket costs will vary depending upon your insurance coverage.
If cost is a concern, one option you may want to consider is teletherapy, which provides rehab services via video conference, email and text message at home. This may be more flexible and allow you to continue working your usual schedule. At The Recovery Village, we offer teletherapy for addiction treatment and we accept insurance for this service.
If you do not have insurance coverage, you can still find a way to cover alcohol and drug rehab costs. Some rehab centers offer financing options or payment plans to fit your budget. Others may accept cash payments or offer a sliding fee scale based on your income.
Another option for covering the cost of rehab is to apply and see if you qualify for Medicaid, which provides insurance coverage to low-income individuals and families, as well as those with disabilities.
Handling Responsibilities at Rehab
Going away to rehab may require you to balance outside responsibilities, such as children and family. If you have children at home and you are a single parent, you will likely have to make arrangements for a relative to care for them while you are gone. This might require you to inform your children’s school and medical providers of the change in caregiver, so they will be able to take the children to school or doctor’s appointments in your absence.
You may also have to stay in contact with your employer regarding the status of your leave. It is important to check with your rehab center before beginning treatment to ensure you will have access to a phone or a means of communicating with your employer via email should the need arise.
Preparing Your Home Life for Rehab
If you are planning to go to inpatient rehab, you will need to prepare your home life. Perhaps you have a spouse or significant other at home who can manage the finances and pay bills. If not, you can still make preparations, which can include:
- Having your mail forwarded
- Setting up automatic bill pay for monthly expenses
- Relocating your pets with loved ones
- Having a friend check in on your home regularly
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Need Help? Send Us Your Questions.
If you have additional questions about how you can go to rehab and keep your job, fill out our contact form, and we will send you an email answering your admissions and work-related questions. You can also give us a call; we are always here to help.
Commonly Asked Questions
The reality is that this is possible. For instance, if you attend rehab once for addiction, your employer might require you to sign a return-to-work agreement after completing rehab. This agreement may stipulate that you can be terminated if you begin using drugs again. If you return to drug use and violate your return-to-work agreement, you could lose your job, even if you have decided to attend rehab a second time.
If you seek inpatient rehab that requires you to leave your job, laws like FMLA or ADA may protect your job while you are away. This means you cannot be fired simply because you have decided to go to treatment. Outpatient rehab treatments can often be planned around your work schedule, or your work schedule can be modified to attend treatment.
According to the law, your employer cannot discriminate against you simply because you have gone to rehab for an addiction. This means that your boss should not give you negative consequences as a punishment for returning from rehab. That being said, your employer may give you a return-to-work agreement, stating that you must remain drug-free. If you violate your return-to-work agreement, you could face consequences, including termination.
If you choose to use FMLA or ADA protections to go to rehab, you will likely have to provide your employer with some information about your need for leave. Remember, they cannot discriminate against you merely because you are seeking addiction treatment. On the other hand, if you choose to go to outpatient treatment in the evenings and do not require any leave from work, you would not necessarily need to inform your employer that you are receiving addiction treatment.
Addiction is likely hurting your performance at work. Perhaps you are frequently arriving late or missing days of work due to drug use, or maybe your productivity and performance have suffered because of the side effects of drug abuse. Ultimately, choosing not to go to rehab is likely to lead to job loss.
Your treatment provider can link you to job search resources and job training programs. You may also consider seeking a job in addiction treatment.
If you are not currently using illegal drugs, you may be able to use ADA protections to seek a leave of absence to attend rehab. So long as it does not place undue hardship on your employer, a leave of absence for rehab can be a reasonable accommodation.
If you have a savings account set up, you might consider accessing your savings while you are in rehab and using funds to cover bills. You can set up automatic bill pay so you don’t have to worry about making payments while in treatment. You might also consider taking out a loan to cover living expenses and bills while in rehab. You could also use short-term or long-term disability coverage to assist with expenses while you are away from work.
Your aftercare plan will help you transition back to home life after being in an inpatient rehab program. Work is part of this transition and can be a part of the aftercare plan.
FMLA does not provide any sort of payment; it simply protects your job while you are in rehab. You may be able to get paid while in rehab if you have short-term or long-term disability coverage or if you have paid vacation or sick days to use.
A return to work agreement spells out expectations and holds you accountable after returning to work from rehab. It may require you to meet performance standards and remain drug-free. Violating such an agreement, such as having a positive drug test, can be grounds for termination.
Under FMLA, an employer cannot terminate you simply because you have gone to rehab. If you use FMLA protections and take the appropriate steps with your employer, you can return to work and get your job back. You must meet specific requirements to qualify for FMLA protection.
Many labor unions support rehab because they want employees to be healthy and productive, and they value safe workplaces.
If you contact your employer to request FMLA leave for addiction, they will likely know you are going to rehab. On the other hand, HIPPA laws protect your private health information. Your employer may get a general report that shows that someone within the organization has accessed rehab services using employer-provided insurance, but they will not know that it was you, specifically. This means that you could attend outpatient rehab and use your insurance, and your employer would not know that you accessed outpatient rehab. A generic report would simply state someone in the company accessed rehab.
Giving up drugs and alcohol on your own can be difficult. If you try to quit on your own but are not successful, there is a chance you could lose your job. Deciding to go to rehab can be scary, but getting the treatment you need can help you achieve a drug-free lifestyle so that addiction does not put you at risk of losing your job.
ADA National Network. “The ADA, Addiction and Recovery.” Accessed November 4, 2020.
ADA National Network. “Work-Leave, the ADA, and the FMLA.” October 2020. Accessed November 4, 2020.
Cornell Law School. “29 CFR § 825.119 – Leave for treatmen[…] of substance abuse.” Accessed November 4, 2020.
Drug-Free Workplace Alliance. “About the Drug-Free Workplace Alliance.” Accessed November 4, 2020.
Hughes, Brian. “Substance Abuse in the Workplace: What t[…] Returns from Rehab.” Business.com, December 21, 2015. Accessed November 4, 2020.
Luhby, Tami. “What does your employer know about your health?” CNN Business, February 12, 2014. Accessed November 4, 2020.
Medicaid.gov. “Eligibility.” Accessed November 4, 2020.
Society for Human Resource Management. “Managing Employee Assistance Programs.” Accessed November 4, 2020.
United Healthcare. “COBRA.” Accessed November 4, 2020.
U.S. Department of Justice. “A Guide to Disability Rights Laws.” February 2020. Accessed November 4, 2020.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.