Contrary to what many people think, addiction and joblessness don’t always go hand in hand. Many people with drug and alcohol addictions lead relatively normal lives. They go to work every day, they pay bills, and they take care of their families. If any of this sounds familiar, the prospect of attending an inpatient addiction treatment program may make you fear for your job. After all, leaving work for several weeks or even months isn’t always easy. The good news is that there are multiple protections in place for people with addictions. There are also many flexible options in addiction treatment, and numerous ways to discuss your treatment needs with your employer.
One of the most important things to remember is that untreated addiction has a far higher likelihood of causing eventual job loss than it does of helping you keep your job over the long-term. Although staying at work and continuing to live your life as you have been might seem like the best decision now, continued drug use is virtually guaranteed to have a number of potentially devastating social, professional, financial, and health consequences. Not only can you keep your current job while going to rehab, but you can also increase your chances of truly thriving in your profession in the future. With treatment, you can increase your value as an employee, become infinitely more reliable, and establish an entirely new set of motivations and priorities.
How Employees Are Protected Against Job Loss While Seeking Treatment
Although addiction is often looked upon as a matter of personal choice or an issue that can be overcome with sufficient willpower, it is actually a complex, lifelong disease. In fact, both substance use disorder and alcohol user disorder are currently recognized as legitimate mental illnesses. Employers cannot lawfully fire their employees for having mental illnesses. Doing so is considered an act of discrimination. Thus, once you disclose to your employer that you’re living with addiction and intend to seek treatment, you’ll be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, your employer cannot fire you for having a mental health disorder or for seeking treatment for your disorder. This remains true even if your treatment requires you to miss work. If you are terminated for seeking or receiving treatment, you will have the right to file discrimination charges.
What may surprise you most is that your employer will likely support you in your efforts to get well. Although many functioning addicts make it to work on time and manage to fulfill their professional responsibilities, the people who share their space are often very aware of their struggles with addiction. When you decide to seek treatment, it’s important to be forthright with your employer. You can start by talking with your human resources department. Many rehab centers offer helpful tips for initiating these conversations. Keeping your employer well-informed is a key part of enjoying the protections that the ADA provides. It is additionally vital for maintaining a good rapport at your current place of employment. One of the many benefits of being honest about your condition and your treatment needs is the fact that there are many employers that are willing to chip in and help cover some of the costs of their workers’ addiction treatment.
It’s additionally important to note that there are actually many different forms of addiction treatment. Inpatient addiction treatment typically lasts between one and three months, and it’s hosted on an entirely closed campus. These services are often recommended for people who’ve been using highly addictive substances, or who’ve been living with addiction for quite some time. Although inpatient addiction treatment will keep you away from your job for a month or more, it will also give you the greatest likelihood of achieving lasting sobriety.
If you’ve only recently become addicted to drugs or alcohol, or if you’ve been using only moderately addictive substances, you may be able to get the help you need in an outpatient program. Outpatient programs offer similar therapies to those that are provided by inpatient treatment centers. In both program types, you’ll take part in individual therapy, group therapy, stress management activities, life-planning workshops, and more. Both inpatient and outpatient programs also offer treatment for co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis treatment. The primary difference is that outpatient programs allow patients to live off campus, and they are flexible enough so that patients can continue attending school and going to work. These programs require a weekly commitment of 12 to 36 hours, depending upon the intensity of the program you choose.
If you’ve been living with addiction, seeking professional treatment is one of the best things that you can do to protect your career. In addition to being forthright with your employer about your addiction and about your desire to obtain treatment, it’s also important to find the right treatment type. Fortunately, we can help. Call us today at 833-820-2922. Our counselors are always standing by.