Can I Lose My Job For Going To Rehab?

can i loose my job for going to rehab

Can I Lose My Job For Going To Rehab?

When in the midst of dealing with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, beginning a rehabilitation program can seem daunting. One of the most common concerns individuals have regarding joining a rehabilitation program is whether or not it will jeopardize their career. Rehabilitation treatment centers can be costly, and without the safety net of a job to return to, it can make seeking out help at a rehabilitation treatment center seem impossible.

If you are wondering if you could lose your job for going to rehab, it is important to consider the variety of situations, implications, laws, and decisions that must be taken into consideration in order to accurately answer this question. Below is an introduction into whether or not you could lose your job if you choose to enter a drug rehab center, and what you need to consider to be sure that your addiction does not cost you your career.

Common Concerns You May Have

Before delving into whether or not you can be fired for entering a rehabilitation program, it is important to address the most common concerns that individuals have about how their addiction and seeking help in a rehabilitation program may affect their job. If you are concerned that your productivity at work has been compromised because of your addiction and your performance at work has decreased, then it is vital that you seek help as soon as possible. If you receive treatment for your addiction, it is likely that you will return to work and regain your lost productivity.

Your employer is within their rights to terminate your employment due to subpar performance and productivity, so before it reaches that point it is important to recognize the toll your addiction is taking on your career and get the help you need. Your employer is also within their rights to test you for drug use and to fire you for a positive drug test. You may also be concerned that if you enter a rehabilitation program, your boss may consequently possess a negative view of you as an employee. However, it is important to keep in mind that addiction is a disease and it requires treatment just like any other disease.

Another common concern is that you will have to explain your addiction and subsequent treatment to your coworkers. While it is always best to be honest, if you are embarrassed or do not wish to discuss your addiction with your peers, you do not have to disclose any personal or medical information to your coworkers. You can simply state that you are receiving medical treatment and that you do not feel comfortable at this time going into the details of your treatment. You may believe that your coworkers or clients will lose respect for you if they discover the reason you are seeking treatment, but it is important to remember that there is strength in recognizing the need for change and actively taking steps to alter your life.

You are making a brave decision to seek professional help to deal with your addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, and most people will respect your decision. As mentioned above, this information does not need to be disclosed to coworkers or clients, and you can work directly with your employer to create a response you feel comfortable with to handle any inquiries that arise when you are receiving treatment in a rehabilitation facility. With this in mind, it is now important to address the primary concern many individuals have when considering beginning a rehabilitation program while employed, which is whether or not you can lose your job for going to rehab.

The Potential Ramifications of Going to Rehab

Entering a rehabilitation program can be intimidating on its own, but the fear of losing your career and livelihood can compound this anxiety regarding going to a rehabilitation treatment center. If you are concerned that you could lose your job for entering a rehabilitation treatment program, stay calm knowing that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are protected from losing your job due to seeking treatment for an addiction. You may be asking yourself, what exactly is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities from discrimination within any area of their life, which includes the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act encompasses many different facets of legislature aimed at preventing discriminatory acts towards those with disabilities, but the most salient section for those suffering from drug and/or alcohol addiction is within Title I. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically addresses benefits for individuals with disabilities, as well as equal employment opportunities.

Within Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, what qualifies as a disability is specifically outlined. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, and/or substance abuse qualify for the protections and benefits within this piece of legislature.

If you seek help for treating your addiction within a rehabilitation treatment program, your employer cannot terminate your employment based on past poor job performance or errors. However, it is important to keep in mind that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not protect employees that are found to be actively using drugs. This means that if your employer tests you for using drugs and you test positive, you can be terminated. It is in your best interest under the Americans with Disabilities Act to seek treatment as soon as possible.

What Will Happen to Your Job While in Rehab

With the knowledge that your employer cannot terminate you for entering a rehabilitation treatment program, you may be asking yourself what will happen to your job during the time you are in a rehabilitation program. Each employer is responsible for working with their employee to determine the best solution for both parties during your absence for the workplace. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer is required to make reasonable accommodations to support your treatment.

This may mean adjusting your work schedule to allow you to attend Narcotics Anonymous/Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or so that you can attend a group counseling session. In addition to receiving protections and benefits under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you also receive assistance from the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Family and Medical Leave act will aid in protecting you from losing your job due to your decision to enter a rehabilitation treatment program.

The Family and Medical Leave Act gives eligible employees the ability to take an unpaid leave of absence for up to twelve weeks within a twelve-month period. This invaluable protection allows you to take the time you need to seek treatment for your addiction and begin living a sober lifestyle before returning to the workplace. The Family and Medical Leave Act will help insulate you from the loss of your employment due to your choice to deal with your addiction and receive treatment.

While the Family and Medical Leave Act will allow you to take time away from work to seek treatment without losing your job, it will not supplement your income during this hiatus. Many individuals are concerned with the financial aspect of seeking help at a rehabilitation treatment center as the program itself will cost money and if it is required to leave your job while in the rehabilitation program, then there is no income.

However, if you find yourself planning to seek treatment at a rehabilitation treatment center, there are steps you can take to mitigate the financial burden of the decision to seek treatment. If you have accrued leave at your workplace, then this is a good time to take your vacation in order to continue to receive your paychecks. If you do not have adequate accrued paid time off or any time off, then you may also be able to utilize short-term disability insurance for the time while you are away from your workplace and in a treatment center. These are both viable options to research and consider as you make your decision to seek treatment for your addiction.

In addition to financial concerns, many individuals worry that in their absence from the workplace and engagement with their role, they will lose their skills or see a diminished skill set upon returning to the workplace. For individuals with careers in highly competitive fields, such as sales, law, finance, or real estate, it is especially intimidating to imagine leaving your job for any period of time to seek treatment.

While these concerns are natural, many patients often experience an improvement in their job performance and productivity after successfully undergoing treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction in a rehabilitation treatment center. Upon entering a rehabilitation treatment center or program, the first step is often to undergo a detox from all drugs and/or alcohol.

This will help rid your body of built-up toxins from continued use and will allow you to regain a clear presence of mind free from the external influence of drugs and/or alcohol. While undergoing detox can be a challenging process due to withdrawal symptoms, upon achieving a successful drug and/or alcohol detox, individuals often experience improved cognitive and neurological function, in addition to improved overall health.

The lack of drugs and/or alcohol impairing your judgment and function will boost your ability to analyze complex information, make decisions, and be more attentive to your surroundings and colleagues. Entering a rehabilitation treatment center to seek help for your addiction brings you one step closer to being the best employee you can be and regaining control over both your personal and professional life.

How to Choose the Right Rehab

Once you have made the decision to seek treatment for your addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, choosing the right rehabilitation treatment center and program will be integral to successfully achieving and maintaining sobriety. The key to finding the right rehabilitation program is to conduct a detailed inventory of your addiction, what environment will best suit you, and what you believe is necessary in order for you to become sober. The first choice you must make is whether or not to enter into a local rehabilitation treatment program within your same city or state, or whether to seek treatment outside of your city or state.

Many patients believe that going to another state to receive treatment benefits them as they do not need to worry about running into anyone they know and it creates a barrier between individuals in their life or social circles that enable their addiction. By seeking treatment in another state, many patients feel they can begin with a clean slate and truly start their life over.

However, for some people, remaining close to family or friends who will support them during treatment may be the right choice. For these patients, choosing an in-state rehabilitation treatment program may be the right choice. Ultimately, choosing the right rehabilitation program depends upon your unique personality and what will best foster a healthy, sober lifestyle for you during your treatment.

Once you have chosen the geographic location in which you would like to be treated, then it is important to consider the myriad of different treatment program options. Programs will vary based on the rehabilitation treatment center, their guiding methodology, and your addiction type and severity, which makes it important to visit and speak with several rehabilitation treatment facilities prior to selecting the right program for you.




Some patients prefer outpatient care as it allows them to continue to have familiarity in their life, while others do not experience success with outpatient programs as it does not remove them from the environment that has bred their addiction. For some an inpatient drug rehab is the best choice as its immersive nature fosters a comprehensive lifestyle change and allows for a period of adjustment. The length and type of rehabilitation treatment program you will need to successfully combat your addiction is based on your type and severity of addiction and your personality. To begin on the path to a healthier lifestyle, find the right treatment program for you and begin making a positive change within your life without the fear of losing your job.  

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