Can You Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

October 22, 2021
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If you or a loved one need rehab for alcohol or substance use disorder, you might be holding back on getting help due to concerns about consequences from your employer. Entering rehab can mean that you need to take significant time off of work, possibly over a month away from your job. Most people worry, can you get fired for going to rehab?

The short answer is no; you can’t get fired for going to rehab. Many laws protect you from discrimination if you have an alcohol or substance use disorder. However, if your addiction is affecting your job performance, you should consider getting help right away. Otherwise, you might be putting your job in jeopardy.

Poor Job Performance Due to Addiction Can Cause You To Get Fired

Drug and alcohol abuse can create many issues for you in your daily life. You might have disruptions in your relationships, social life, and your occupation. When considering the negative effects of addiction, consequences in multiple areas of your life — including your vocational wellness — need to be considered when you think about treatment.

You might be a “weekend warrior” or only use substances and alcohol during your own time off-hours. However, if your weekend continues getting longer, you have hangovers that cause you to call out, or you spend most of your workday thinking about getting drunk or high, you might be on a destructive path that could lead to poor job performance or attendance issues. 

While your employer cannot fire you for getting help or for being in recovery from substance and alcohol use disorder, they can fire you for issues that occur on the job due to drug or alcohol use. For example, if you are consistently late each shift due to sleepiness from partying late into the night or cannot perform your work tasks adequately due to a lingering hangover, your employer might have cause to discipline you, which can include termination.

Get Treatment Now Before You Fear Getting Fired For Going To Rehab

If you begin to notice your work performance slipping due to alcohol or substance abuse, it would be best for you to get help before things get even worse. If you lose your primary source of income, you might spiral further into your addiction due to increased stress over finances. If you are expereicing decreased performance in your position, you may be concerend about being fired for going to rehab. Make sure you are aware of the behavioral changes you may be facing from substance or alcohol use disorder.

According to, some of the following behavioral changes could mean that your or a loved one has a substance or alcohol use disorder:

  • Poor work performance or frequent absences
  • Conflicts and fights with friends, family, employers, and co-workers
  • Drinking alcohol or using substances on the job or in other hazardous ways (like driving under the influence)
  • Being secretive or vague about behaviors
  • A lack of motivation
  • Sleeping issues (either too much or too little)
  • Change in attitude and mood swings
  • Change in appetite 
  • Being overly anxious, fearful, or paranoid for no reason

When you or a loved one have behavioral changes like these occur during work, they might be putting their job at risk. For example, if they are continually getting into arguments with co-workers or causing time-loss incidents due to being reckless while under the influence, they might be fired for these issues if they do nothing to address their substance or alcohol abuse.

Alcohol and Drug Rehab Is a Health Concern

Alcohol and drug addiction are health issues, as scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have “shown that addiction is a long-lasting and complex brain disease.” Because addiction is a disease, you are protected by certain laws, like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), from discrimination when you seek treatment or are fully rehabilitated.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you can use FMLA leave “for substance abuse treatment [including both drug and alcohol abuse] provided by a health care provider or by a provider of health care services on referral by a health care provider.” FMLA leave, however, cannot be used for “[a]bsence because of the employee’s use of the substance.”

When you are actively attempting to treat your substance or alcohol use disorder before things get out of hand, you are protected by the law to get treatment. However, if you continue to abuse drugs and alcohol without getting help, your employer reserves the right to fire you if your job performance is impacted and you refuse rehab.

If your job performance is beginning to suffer due to drug or alcohol addiction, you should get help before your employer has cause to fire you for performance-related issues. The law will not protect you if you are not actively seeking treatment for alcohol or substance use disorder.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab In Southern California

If you are concerned about being fired for going to rehab, due to addiction, you can get a referral from your primary care physician or another healthcare provider. Located near Newport Beach and Long Beach in Southern California, Gratitude Lodge can help you manage your addiction before your life spirals out of control. Take the first steps in your journey to recovery with us. Contact our addmissions team today to get started with drug and alcohol treatment plans.

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