Will I Lose My Job By Going To Rehab?

One of the biggest concerns of individuals looking for treatment for alcohol abuse or mental health disorders is what the impact of attending rehab will be on their employment. Prospective patients may know they need care but worry about losing their job or having their professional reputation damaged as a result of seeking treatment. Returning to work after rehab is entirely possible.

Hopefully reading this article will provide some assurances to those worried about unemployment following rehab. Not only are there several robust legal protections in place to keep one’s job safe while in treatment, some rehab options don’t require one to step away from work at all. What’s more, many rehabs offer job services and there are a variety of ways to re-enter the workforce even if residential treatment is required.

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What Legal Protections Exist?

Employees considering rehab should know that there are many laws protecting their right to seek treatment. These legal protections include:

  • The Americans With Disabilities Act. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. According to the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration’s website, not only does the law protect employees who have a history of substance abuse, it also stipulates that, “Employers also cannot fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees merely because they are enrolled in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.”
  • The Family Medical And Leave Act. The Family Medical And Leave Act (FMLA), passed in 1993, protects employees who work for public agencies or who work for private companies with more than 50 employees. Under the terms of FMLA, after an employee has worked at a given place of employment for one year (and have worked at least 1,250 hours in that time), that employee becomes eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave. The employer is forbidden from punishing the employee for taking this leave, and this time can be used to attend rehab.
  • The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act. The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in 1996 and protects the confidentiality of a patient’s health records. This means that employers cannot access health information without written authorization from an employee. Employees therefore need not worry about their health records affecting their employment or professional reputation, as this information isn’t even available to the employer in the first place.

Why Might Outpatient Treatment Be Beneficial?

One option that may exist for the individual concerned about disrupting their career by attending rehab is outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment, as opposed to residential or inpatient treatment, does not require a commitment to full-time care at a treatment facility. Instead, outpatient programs can be attended several times a week, sometimes even remotely via videoconferencing. Many of the same services offered in an inpatient setting, like access to a psychiatrist and group therapy sessions, are offered via outpatient treatment as well.

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What Job Services Do Rehabs Offer?

Some rehabs may offer trainings and resources that will benefit the individual looking to successfully return to work after rehab. Treatment centers may offer vocational training or life skills classes and may even work with local employers to provide job placement upon discharge. It’s well-documented that the risk of relapse is reduced when one receives proper psychosocial support; rehabs know this and therefore make it a priority to prepare an individual to find work again after they complete their treatment. Of course, the exact services offered will vary rehab to rehab, which is why it’s worth speaking with a treatment provider to see what options are available nearby.

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How To Return To Work After Rehab

On the chance that rehab is incompatible with one’s place of employment, or if one is choosing to step away from work in order to focus on recovery, there are several avenues to pursue when returning to work after rehab. A few are listed below.

  • CareerOneStop. A service offered by the U.S. Department of Labor, CareerOneStop provides job openings, job and skill trainings, networking opportunities, and information on how to apply for unemployment. This makes it an incredibly valuable resource for someone who has just left rehab and may be in between jobs.
  • Volunteering. Volunteering looks good on a resume, often has a lower barrier to entry than traditional employment, and may provide a productive outlet and a means for positive socialization for the individual fresh out of rehab. Local animal shelters, food pantries, and libraries are some traditional routes for volunteerism. Volunteering may not only be a worthwhile placeholder while one is looking for employment, but could also end up leading to a full-time offer from the organization one is volunteering with.
  • Recovery-friendly workplaces. A recovery-friendly workplace is one that recognizes individuals in recovery may have unique gifts and advantages to bring to the table. They will likely be more open to bringing on a candidate who has been in rehab, and may already have a team full of staff who have received treatment. Recovery-friendly workplaces may also do community work and provide a safe and stable environment free or drugs and alcohol, which means there won’t be a pressure to meet co-workers at the bar for a drink after work.

Finding A Solution

Many laws exist to protect your job if you’re looking for treatment. And there are many resources available to help you find a new job if you need to step away from work altogether. That’s why, if you’re considering rehab, there’s no reason to wait. Contact a treatment provider now, get information about rehabs near you, and get the help you deserve right away.

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