Can You Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

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can you get fired for going to rehab

Can You Get Fired for Going to Rehab? How to Use FMLA for Treatment

You have arrived at a crossroads, one that offers a choice to either continue using drugs or alcohol or to get treatment. You might worry about the after effects of telling your employer that you need to get some help. But… can you get fired for going to rehab? Actually, no, as long as there has been no decline in job performance and you abstain from substance use while at work. When you then go to Human Resources to request a medical leave of absence for treatment, it is not grounds for termination. There are laws in place to protect you.

What are the Signs of Addiction?

The signs of addiction may creep in gradually. It may not be something you notice all at once, but little by little the signs of a substance problem emerge. When struggling with a drug or alcohol problem there are some common signs that include:

  • Tries to stop or cut down but cannot.
  • A decline in job performance.
  • Neglecting work and family obligations.
  • Excessive absenteeism.
  • Lying to others about your substance use.
  • Missing important meetings or deadlines.
  • The decline in appearance and hygiene.
  • Mood swings.
  • Doctor shopping for more refills
  • Buying drugs online or on the street.
  • Rapid weight gain or loss.
  • Withdrawing or isolating.
  • Avoiding social events.
  • Facial bloating; distended belly.
  • Keep using or drinking, despite the negative effects.
  • Mania
  • Withdrawal symptoms.

The more of these signs that are present, the more severe the substance use disorder is. can i get fired for going to rehab

How to Tell Your Employer You Need Treatment

According to SAMHSA, 14 million working U.S. adults have a substance use disorder. Sadly, only a fraction of them ever take the steps to obtain the expert support they need. One of the biggest stumbling blocks is, of course, fear of job loss. The main reasons why someone ignores the need for help include:

  • Harm to reputation due to stigma.
  • Impact on job or career.
  • Cost of treatment.
  • Taking a long leave of absence is not possible.
  • Fear of detox.

Even if you feel terrified about asking for a leave, the truth is that many people at work are already concerned about your health. The signs of substance use disorder become hard to hide, so they are likely aware that you have a problem. Most H.R. departments have a well-defined process for dealing with issues such as drug abuse among employees. This helps clear the way for the employee to obtain treatment. In fact, some companies have a team dedicated to helping employees with substance use issues get into treatment. The H.R. office must remain discreet and honor the employee’s wishes as to whether the immediate manager is told the reason for the leave.

How Your Job is Protected if You Need Rehab

The executive, and all employees, will find their jobs protected, in the absence of illegal activities related to addiction, through federal laws regarding the issues of discrimination and privacy. Consider these legal protections: FMLA. The Family Leave act assists those with a medical need for an extended leave of absence, including one that keeps them from being able to work. These employees can be granted up to twelve weeks of paid or unpaid leave without the risk of losing their job. This means that after the 12-week leave, their former position with the same benefits and pay is guaranteed. ADA. The Disabilities Act includes mental health disorders and substance use disorders among those protected under the law. The ADA protects the employee from being fired for receiving treatment for a substance use disorder or a dual diagnosis.

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Two Rehab Options to Consider

There are many treatment options to consider, which all fall under either outpatient or inpatient formats:


Outpatient rehab programs offer three levels of care, so you match the level with your recovery needs. For someone who has a job, an outpatient program is very flexible. There is no need to take a long leave from work if you can find a rehab with schedule options. The three types of outpatient rehab include:

  • Basic outpatient treatment. The basic outpatient treatment offers evaluation, therapy sessions, and classes. It is best for those with mild or emerging substance use problems.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP). The IOP provides a more robust program that requires about nine hours of attendance each week. Program elements include therapy, education, and 12-step programming. Detox services are referred if needed.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP). The PHP offers the highest level of care for an outpatient program. The PHP requires about 30 hours per week of programming. The PHP has detox services, psychiatric and medical services, as well a 12-step recovery program.


For moderate to severe substance use disorders, a residential or inpatient rehab is the better option. This is because these programs offer 24-hour support and guidance, which helps deter a relapse. Programs last from one to six months in duration on average. Treatment includes:

  • Detox. Most inpatient rehabs have detox programs on campus. Detox and withdrawal are closely monitored and last 1-2 weeks depending on the substance.
  • One-on-one talk therapy. Talk sessions between a counselor and client help identify any thought and/or behavioral patterns that need changing.
  • Group therapy. Small groups of peers meet with a counselor to discuss topics about recovery. These group sessions provide a safe space to share and offer support to each other.
  • Education. In recovery, you will need new tools to help you manage triggers. Classes teach relapse prevention strategies, as well as new coping skills.
  • 12-step. The 12-step program of A.A. is sometimes included in rehab. The 12-steps offer a blueprint for achieving sustained sobriety.
  • Supportive activities. To help manage stress, you will learn ways to relax through meditation, yoga, or art therapy.

If you believe you would benefit from treatment but wonder, “Can you get fired for going to rehab,” worry not. Your rights are fully protected under the law.

LifeSync Malibu for Drug and Alcohol Recovery

LifeSync Malibu is a leading addiction recovery program that is dedicated to providing the most current evidence-based treatment solutions. For a luxury rehab experience, combined with expert clinical support, LifeSync Malibu will exceed your expectations. Call us today at (866) 491-4426.