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While addiction treatment is extremely important, it can be very hard to put your entire life on hold to take the time you need to get better. Work commitments are one of the most common barriers preventing people from receiving treatment because of an inability to take time off or fear that they might not have a job after they come back. There are ways, however, to keep your job and get the treatment you need.

How Can I Keep My Job While in Drug & Alcohol Treatment?

It is a common misconception that many addicts are unemployed, in reality, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 76 percent of people with substance abuse issues hold jobs. There are laws in place to protect those who struggle with addiction from being fired, especially because addiction is classified as a mental illness. More than this, receiving treatment and becoming sober will probably result in higher performance in the workplace and possibly even promotions.

It is also important to note that inpatient rehab is not the only option when receiving treatment for addiction. While rehab treatment centers are likely to be the most effective for those who are really struggling, there are other solutions, such as outpatient treatment, where individuals can travel back and forth from, or attend sessions that are planned around a work schedule.

How to Manage Working While in Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance abuse treatment and jobs both take up a lot of time, so it can be challenging to find time for both. This is often a reason that people put off seeking treatment until things get too bad to ignore. But the truth is that your health is important, and if you are struggling with addiction, it can affect your performance at work. Fear of losing your job should not a reason to put off drug and alcohol treatment.

Here are a few ideas to help you manage the stress of seeking treatment while employed.

Talk to Your Supervisor or HR

It is likely going to be a good idea to let someone in the organization know what you’re going through. While it can scary to reveal something so personal, it can give them a clear picture of your personal struggles and why you might not be performing as expected. As we will discuss below, you cannot be fired for disclosing that you are in treatment for drug & alcohol addiction.

Take Stock of Your Vacation and/or Sick Days

While it’s a good idea to minimize that amount of work you are missing, it might be necessary sometimes. Treatment is an extremely consuming process and there might be certain meetings that you need to attend during work hours or additional work events that you might have to miss out on. Make sure you have a clear picture of how many vacation and sick days you have so that you can use them strategically and have a few on hand in case there is an emergency.

Create a Clear Treatment Plan

It is always helpful to sit down with your therapist and create a plan of treatment so that you can get a full picture of the time commitment you are agreeing to. This means both how long you will need to be in treatment, and what your daily and weekly commitments will look like. This can be challenging, but between working and treatment, you will probably have very little time left over. Understanding how long you need to stay in a more complete treatment plan and when you may be able to transition to a lesser time commitment can also help you stay focused on your end goal.

Communicate Clearly

One of the most important things throughout this process will involve providing clear communication about everything with the people in your life. In particular, it is key that you are providing clear, honest information to the therapist you are working with. They should know about your work schedule to help you work in treatment around that, and if anything changes, it’s imperative that you let them know. It’s also a good idea to let important people in your life know what you’re going through so that they can offer you support as you work through this journey.

If you have other questions about how to keep your job while in drug & alcohol treatment, Cardinal Recovery would be happy to talk with you about your specific concerns. We offer a range of different treatment options that suit different needs. Reach out today to discuss this with one of our admissions specialists.

Treatment Options for Substance Abuse and Addiction

Many people automatically think of in-patient rehab when they imagine getting treated for their addiction. And while that is one option, it isn’t the only option out there. For people that want to stay home or need to keep their job in order to pay for treatment, we recognize that it isn’t always possible to take off a few weeks or months at a time. That’s why Cardinal Recovery offers a few different programs to help you get treatment and get on the road to recovery.

In-Patient Hospitalization

In-patient hospital treatment is usually a short-term, intensive form of treatment in response to an overdose or other episode requiring immediate treatment. These programs can vary in length but aren’t usually intended to be long-term treatment plans. This would most likely require missing some work as you would be under constant surveillance to help with detoxing and ensure that all substance use stops.

Partial Hospitalization

Partial hospitalization programs are also short and intensive, but they allow you to live at home or in a halfway home while you are receiving treatment. These programs usually require a large time commitment of up to five days a week and mandate random drug testing. You may also be required to take part in external group therapy sessions in addition. This might be a necessary first step in your recovery process, but isn’t a good long-term solution if you are trying to work while in treatment.

Residential Treatment Center

Residential treatment centers are what we think of as “rehab.” These programs can range from 30 to 90 days, or sometimes longer, and are inpatient addiction recovery programs. Residential programs are excellent for people with severe addiction who would be best served by being completely separated from the environment in which they use. The treatment centers help you detox and work through all the complicated emotions that go into that process. They also provide more assurance of success because of the controlled environments.

Cardinal Recovery highly recommends residential treatment centers for people with all types of addiction to get started on the right path to recovery. Of course, this can be a challenge as you wouldn’t be able to maintain a job while in the treatment facility. If you have vacation days that you can use, this might be an excellent place to start before transitioning into an outpatient program.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient programs for drug & alcohol treatment space your treatment out across the week, usually meeting for nine hours over three to five days. This is a much more workable option for people with full-time jobs, but it is still an enormous time commitment that you have to fit into your regular schedule.

These programs will usually involve individual and group therapy and are best for people who do not need to go through a detox phase. It is very, very difficult to detox from drugs or alcohol on your own, so if that is something you need starting with, an inpatient program is probably a better call.

How Should I Prepare for Treatment While Working?

How can I keep my job while in substance abuse treatment? Well, preparing in advance is going to be necessary. No matter what treatment route you decide to take, you will need to have an honest conversation with your employer about your treatment plan, especially if it will interfere with your work schedule. Even when enrolling in outpatient care, which might be more flexible, it is best to be honest with your employer because withdrawal symptoms and treatment may impair your ability to focus and function like before.

If an employer confronts you before you have the chance to talk to them first, it is a good idea to be open and honest about your addiction. By doing this, you can protect yourself from being terminated because employers are required to allow their employees to attempt to become sober before dismissing them if there have been no incidents at the workplace.

If you plan to talk to your employer first, it is crucial to first understand your rights as an employee and the drug and alcohol policies for your specific company. Individuals within human resources can be very useful in this process and can help you through the situation.

Additionally, you want to prepare yourself mentally and have a place for how you’re going to manage everything. It is emotionally and physically exhausting to get sober, and it will take a lot of focus.

What Are My Rights in the Workplace?

Going to drug and alcohol rehab with a job can be nerve-wracking, but there are laws in place that ensure your rights while working. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are two laws that have provisions to protect those struggling with addiction from being fired from their jobs. Addiction is a mental illness, so while the use of illegal substances or inappropriate behavior at work could lead to losing your job, if you are getting treatment, there are protections in place.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

An individual is covered by the ADA if they have been successfully rehabilitated after drug use or currently participating in a rehabilitation program. When protected by the ADA, you are not allowed to be fired for reasons relating to your addiction or recovery process. If there is any dispute or you are terminated, you can file a charge of discrimination against the employer.

Keep in mind the following as it related to the ADA:

  • You can’t be fired for seeking treatment for substance abuse
  • There is no protection if your job discovers you are still using
  • Past transgressions won’t impact your ability to file a claim under the ADA

The most important thing here is that you must seek treatment. This shows to your employer that you are working to get better, which is why getting treatment is so important to getting back to your everyday life.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

For the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee can qualify for 12 weeks of medical leave, including for reasons related to addiction treatment. Even though this leave of absence is generally unpaid, you can maintain peace of mind knowing that you will continue to have a job after your treatment.

You qualify for FMLA if you:

  • Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months.
  • Have worked a minimum of 1250 hours over that time.
  • Work at a company with over 50 employees.

How Should I Return to My Job After Inpatient Treatment?

Working during and after addiction recovery is possible. Once treatment is complete, a Return-to-Work Agreement (RTWA) will be drafted and signed. This document should outline all the expectations of an employee when returning to work after the treatment. Most RTWAs include information about maintaining sobriety and a promise to remain completely abstinent from alcohol and/or drugs. They also may require regular drug testing, acceptance of all the recommendations made by treatment professionals, agreement to be monitored by the company and agreement to be disciplined if company rules are violated, not relating to drugs or alcohol.

While many people avoid treatment out of fear of losing their job, in the long run, it is extremely beneficial to take time off to get the help you need. If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to Cardinal Recovery, and we would be happy to walk you through your options and how we can help.