March 2, 2023

Can You Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

an employee after learning he can't get fired after going to rehab

If you have developed an addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs, the most effective pathway to sustained recovery involves inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab.

Help for you or a loved one is only one call away.

Data from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) indicates that fewer than one in ten U.S. adults with diagnosable addictions connect with professional treatment.

Maybe you are ready to reclaim your life from drug addiction or alcoholism, but you are concerned about endangering your job stability while pursuing treatment. If so, this guide will help you determine, “Will I lose my job if I go to rehab?” Discover how the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) may provide protection from losing your job if you require rehabilitation for alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) or substance use disorder (drug addiction), both diagnosable medical conditions.

Addiction in the Workplace

Alcoholism and drug addiction are a significant problem in the United States, both in and out of the workplace.

Data from NSDUH 2021 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) indicate that:

●  46.3 million U.S. adults met the diagnostic criteria for drug addiction (substance use disorder) in 2021.

●  29.5 million U.S. adults met the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism (alcohol use disorder) in 2021.

●  7.3 million U.S. adults met the diagnostic criteria for drug addiction and alcoholism in 2021.

Despite common misconceptions, the majority of adults struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol hold down jobs. According to NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), more than 70% of adults who abuse illicit narcotics are in employment. Most of those who engage in binge drinking episodes are also employed.

The most abused substances in the workplace include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine

The cumulative cost of drug and alcohol abuse by employees is estimated to exceed $100 billion each year.

Poor Performance

Addiction in the workplace can have significant adverse effects on your performance, as well as impacting the overall productivity and efficiency of the workplace. Here are some  ways in which addiction can impact performance:

  • Decreased productivity: Addiction can impair your ability to focus and complete tasks, leading to decreased productivity. This can potentially result in missed deadlines, low quality work, and reduced efficiency.
  • Increased absenteeism: Addiction can lead to absenteeism from work, either due to physical health complications or to attend treatment or support groups. This can lower productivity and increase the workload for your co-workers.
  • Safety risks: If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work, you may pose a safety risk to yourself and others, possibly triggering workplace accidents or injuries, impacting both personal performance and overall productivity in the workplace.
  • Interpersonal problems: Addiction can spark interpersonal problems with colleagues, such as conflicts, clouded communication, and impaired teamwork. This can impact the overall culture of the workplace and may reduce job satisfaction for everyone concerned.
  • Increased healthcare costs: Addiction can result in increased healthcare costs for both you and your employer, due to the need for medical treatment, therapy, and counseling.

Can you get fired for going to rehab, then?

Can I Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

It is possible to get fired from your job for going to rehab if substance abuse is impairing your professional performance. That said, you are offered protections from the ADA and the FMLA.

  • Important note: Neither the ADA nor the FMLA provide protection for those currently and actively using drugs.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

The ADA took effect in 1990, designed to protect employees from discrimination, whether they are in recovery from addiction or seeking inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment.

Thanks to the ADA, employers are legally prohibited from engaging in the following destructive and discriminating behaviors:

  1. Refusing to hire someone because they went to rehab or because they have previously engaged with treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism.
  2. Refusing to promote someone for the same reasons.
  3. Firing someone for going to rehab.
  4. Firing someone for having attended rehab in the past.
  5. Firing, refusing to hire, or refusing to promote someone with a history of substance abuse or addiction

FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act)

FMLA passed in 1993, intended to protect those who need time off work to care for themselves, a spouse, a child, or a parent with a serious health complication.

It is possible to use FMLA leave for the following purposes:

  • Drug addiction rehab
  • Alcoholism rehab
  • Treatment for a physical complication triggered by substance abuse – liver failure, for instance

The FMLA prohibits an employer from firing, demoting, or refusing to promote someone who takes advantage of FMLA leave to attend rehab.

Under the FMLA, you may be entitled to three months of unpaid and non-reimbursable leave to engage with treatment for alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder without losing your job as a result. During that time, you will retain access to group healthcare benefits to help you defray treatment costs.

How to Tell Your Employer You’re Going to Rehab

If you want to learn how to go to rehab without losing your job, you are in luck, federal laws protect you in this case. If you are thinking about entering inpatient or outpatient rehab for substance abuse, ensure that you know your rights.

When you voice your intentions of taking leave under the FMLA to your employer or the HR department in your workplace, you are not obliged to reveal your diagnosis. That said, you should offer enough information to illustrate that your leave is related to a condition protected under the FMLA.

If appropriate, complete any current projects and let your coworkers know that you’re taking a leave of absence.

Here is a framework to help you alert your employer that you need to go to rehab:

  • Plan ahead: Choose a time and place where you can talk privately with your employer. Make sure you have all the necessary information about your leave of absence and that you are aware of your company’s policies concerning addiction treatment.
  • Be honest: Be straightforward and honest about your situation. Let your employer know that you need to take time off to address a personal issue and that you are going to rehab to get the help you need.
  • Reinforce your commitment: Make sure that your employer knows that you are committed to getting better and that rehab is an important part of the recovery process. You can also reassure them that you will do everything you can to minimize any disruptions to your work while you are away.
  • Keep it simple: There is no need to divulge too much detail about your situation unless you feel comfortable doing so. Keep the conversation focused on the fact that you need to take time off for rehab.
  • Adhere to company policy: Ensure that you follow your company’s policy for requesting a leave of absence. Provide all necessary documentation and follow the proper procedures.

Newport Beach Rehab at Gratitude Lodge

When you are ready to commit to recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism, we can help you from detox to discharge and beyond at to Gratitude Lodge‘s rehab in Newport Beach, California

Kickstart your recovery with our supervised medical detox program. Benefit from medications to streamline withdrawal and continuous care to minimize the chance of complications or relapse during detoxification. After a week or so, you can move directly into ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Maybe you require the support and structure provided by our 30-day inpatient rehab program. Perhaps you need the flexibility of intensive outpatient treatment so you can continue meeting your commitments without compromising your recovery. For those with co-occurring disorders, our dual diagnosis treatment program delivers coordinated care.

All Gratitude Lodge treatment plans offer individualized therapy that may combine the following interventions:

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Aftercare

When you feel ready to move beyond active addiction, we can help you achieve this at Gratitude Lodge in Newport Beach. Call the friendly team at 888-861-1658 for immediate assistance and learn about how you can go to rehab without losing your job.

Want to learn more?

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Russe MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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