If you are living with a substance abuse disorder, seeking professional treatment is your best option for long-term recovery. A residential program allows clients to focus their entire attention on getting well. Taking the step to stop using drugs or alcohol is a major one, and someone who is in the early stages of recovery needs to learn the tools to make this new lifestyle a success.
Getting Addiction Treatment While Employed
Many people wonder whether they will lose their job if they admit to their employer that they are struggling with an addiction. It’s very difficult for someone to admit that they have a problem, since denial is a symptom of this disease. If you have come to the point where you realize that you need help, then you probably understand that your substance use has likely impacted your work performance.
If you don’t address your addiction by going into treatment, you are more likely to be reprimanded and get poor performance reviews. These types of actions may lead to you losing your job. By approaching your employer and honestly admitting that you have a medical condition requiring treatment, in many instances, you will be able to get the support you need to step away from your job in order to go to rehab.
Be Proactive When Speaking to your Employer
Employees working for any government department or companies with 15 or more workers are protected under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and can’t be fired for seeking addiction treatment. Since addiction falls under the category of a medical issue, the employer must keep all details of any time off to get treatment and the reasons for being off work confidential.
If you have been approached by your supervisor or manager about poor work performance issues, do let the HR Department know that you have a substance abuse issue. Say that you want to get help. Ask about resources available through your employer health benefits plan, since you may need a referral from a doctor before you can go into a residential drug and alcohol treatment program.
Use FMLA to Seek Addiction Treatment
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. During this time, the employer is required to protect the employee’s job so that the employee can return to the same position. The employee’s group health benefits must also remain in force during the unpaid leave.
This law applies to “all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees.” Employers must provide FMLA benefits to employees who have:
- Been with the employer for at least 12 months
- Worked a minimum of 1,250 hours
- Performed the work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles
If you meet these criteria, you will be able to take unpaid leave to get treatment for a serious health condition.
As you can see, there is a way you can step back from your job to get help for substance abuse. Laws are in place to protect your rights to privacy while you get the treatment you need and to protect your job, too, if you qualify. If you work for a small business, it’s worthwhile to speak to your employer honestly about your medical condition and your plan for getting help. It’s in the employer’s best interest to have healthy, productive workers.