How do I get time off of work to attend addiction rehab?

the recover
Jul 26, 2017 · 12 min read

The first step in recovering from drug abuse or alcohol abuse is realizing and accepting that you have a problem. Everything else will surface from there. It may be hard to think logical and convince yourself that you need to attend treatment, along with so many other questions that are racing through your mind. If you’re a parent and have young kids, finding suitable long-term child care that you’re confident with may be expensive. Finding a family member or a friend that is willing and able to help may be a better option.

For many, the essential concern will be how to survive financially while out of work and how their bills are going to get paid. Many individuals will not be able to work for the time being when choosing a residential or outpatient drug treatment program. The ability of having a job during alcohol or drug rehab is a huge factor for many Americans. In many cases, people think that keeping a job is more important than getting help. When having this mind set, it will only last for so long then eventually backfire. Addicts that don’t treat their addiction, will end up bringing their problems to work and may result in being let go due to having repetitive and ongoing problems effecting their work ethic.

Can I lose my job if my boss knows that I’m an addict and need treatment?

This is another burden for many professionals in the same difficult dilemma. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from being discriminated against because of a disability. Under this act, it defines what qualifies as a disability. People who struggle with alcohol/drugs are considered to have a disability under this law.

Here’s where it gets tricky, if your job performance is being affected because of your drinking, your employer has every right to fire you. They first have to prove that your quality of performance is poor, or that you are lacking what they expect from you. If you choose to get help before your employer takes any disciplinary action, they cannot fire you for past mistakes or poor quality of work.

People taking advantage and using illegal drugs are not protected by the ADA. The act protects someone that has a history of drug use but is in recovery for it. It also protects someone that is no longer using and attending treatment. Your employer has the right to drug test you as needed. If you have a problem and know it, it is best if you take the initiative and seek help now.

Your addiction may be causing issues at work. If it continues, it can eventually lead to you getting fired. This means no income, and can result in you losing everything that you worked so hard your whole life for (family, your home, etc). It’s not like it stops when you get to work, then once you’re done, you pick it back up. You are using while working. If you have an addiction, it most likely is already affecting your work ethic. People with addictions often:

  • Take unapproved or obscure leave.
  • Arrive late.
  • Takes advantage of sick time.
  • Has patterns of absence (certain days or after payday).
  • Take absences due to “accidents or emergencies”.
  • Frequently misses deadlines.
  • Turns in incomplete work
  • Fails to meet production quotas
  • Always has excuses for late or incomplete work
  • Produces poor work ethic
  • Has problems with coworkers or becomes aggressive towards them
  • Is distant

Research has shown that alcohol abuse alone costs American employers 33 to 68 billion dollars per year. With this being said, not being able to miss work to get help for your addiction isn’t believable. Most jobs would want you to get the help when having a problem and there would be no issue accommodating you, rather than keeping a worker that has a problem and continues to slack off. Rates of addiction seem to be much higher among the unemployed rather than the individuals that are employed. If you rely on your addiction, it will only be a matter of time before you will find yourself without a job.

Can an employer fire you while you are away getting treatment?

It all depends on who you are employed by. In most cases, using drugs can be a good enough reason for getting fired by your employer. You would be putting not only your job at risk, but you would be putting yourself at risk as well.

If you are not actively using, some employers will have accommodating policies giving attention to employee’s detainment after drug or alcohol treatment, or will be under union contract to treat the employee with certain regulations. For those without clear guidelines, the Family and Medical Leave Act can often fill in the gaps.

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee can get up to 12 weeks of leave (either paid or unpaid) every 12 months in order to treat their addiction that constrains them from working. This includes going to rehab, as long as there is no valid reasoning, such as poor work ethic due to your addiction.

Can I keep my job while in rehab?

Once an employee is accepted and takes a leave of absence, the employer must keep that position open until the approved time of leave expires. The employer must keep the health coverage of the employee as well. The problem with the FMLA is that it only applies to companies with fifty or more employees. A person can lose coverage if there are any details missed due to complicated rules that surrounded the application of a FMLA based leave. If you are unsure if your able to keep your job with your employer when entering rehab, speak to an employment lawyer in your state, they can give you more accurate information.

What exactly is FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law that covers employers and provides employees job-protected and unpaid leave for skillful medical and family reasoning. Medical and family qualifications include: personal or family illness, family military leave, pregnancy, adoption, or fostering a child. FMLA leave may only be taken for substance abuse treatment provided by a health care provider or by a provider of health care services on referral by a health care provider. Employees having a leave of absence due to addiction, instead of treatment, doesn’t qualify under the FMLA act.

Employers cannot take action against an employee if they have devoted his or her right to take FMLA leave for substance abuse treatment. If the employer has a permanent policy, applied in a non-discriminatory manner, that has been provided to all employees under assured circumstances, an employee may be let go for using substances. The employee may then be terminated whether he or she is presently taking FMLA leave. An employee may also be eligible to take FMLA leave to take care of a family member who is receiving treatment for addiction and the employer is not allowed to take action against the employee.

Who Can Use FMLA Leave?

You must work for a covered employer in order to take FMLA leave. Private employers with 50 or more employees are covered by the law. If you’re a private employer with less than 50 employees, you will not be covered but may qualify for family state and medical leave laws. Government agencies (including local, state and federal employers) and elementary and secondary schools are covered by the FMLA, no matter the amount of employees. You need to meet additional criteria to be eligible to take FMLA leave if you work for a covered company.

Not everyone who works for a covered employer is accepted. First, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months. You do not have to have worked for 12 months in a row (so seasonal work counts), but generally if you have a break in service that lasted more than seven years, you cannot calculate that period of employment prior to the seven-year break. Second, you must have worked for the employer for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months before you take leave. That works out to an average of about 24 hours per week over the course of a year. Lastly, you must work at a place where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite. Even if your employer has more than 50 employees, they can’t be spread out and if there are not 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work, you will not qualify to take FMLA leave. Airline Flight Attendants/Flight Crew Employees Due to non-traditional work schedules, airline flight attendants and flight crew members are subject to special eligibility requirements under the FMLA. You meet the hours of work requirement if, during the 12 months prior to your need for leave, you have worked or been paid for at least 60% of your applicable monthly guarantee, and have worked or been paid for at least 504 hours, not including personal commute time, or time spent on vacation, medical or sick leave.


This kind of law also helps cover addicts wanting to go to addiction treatment. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security arrangements for securing medical information. The act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in August 1996, consists of 5 sections, or titles:

  • HIPAA Title I protects health insurance coverage for people who lose or change jobs. It also restricts group health plans from denying coverage to people with particular illnesses and pre-existing conditions, and from setting life time coverage limitations.
  • HIPAA Title II directs the United States Department of Health and Human Services to develop nationwide requirements for processing electronic health care deals. It needs health care companies to execute safe and secure electronic access to health data and to stay in compliance with privacy policies set by HHS.
  • HIPAA Title III consists of tax-related arrangements and standards for treatment.
  • HIPAA Title IV further more specifies medical insurance reform, consisting of arrangements for people with pre-existing conditions and those looking for continued protection.
  • HIPAA Title V deals with arranging company-owned life insurance coverage and treatment to those who lose their U.S. citizenship for income tax purposes.

In IT circles, sticking to HIPAA Title II is exactly what many people indicate when they describe HIPAA compliance. Likewise referred to as the Administrative Simplification provisions, Title II consists of the following HIPAA compliance requirements:

  • National Provider Identifier Standard- Each health care entity, consisting of people, employers, health plans and healthcare providers, need to have a distinct 10-digit nationwide provider identifier number, or NPI.
  • Transactions and Code Sets Standards- Health care companies should follow a standardized system for electronic information interchange (EDI) in order to send and process insurance coverage claims.
  • HIPAA Privacy Rule- Formally known as the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, this guideline develops nationwide requirements to secure patient health information.
  • HIPAA Security Rule- The Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information sets requirements for patient data security.
  • HIPAA Enforcement Rule- This guideline develops standards for examinations into HIPAA compliance infractions.

In 2013, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule was put in place by HHS to execute adjustments to HIPAA in accordance with standards set in 2009 by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act concerning the obligations of service partners of covered entities. The omnibus guideline has increased penalties for HIPAA compliance violations to an optimum of $1.5 million per incident.

HIPAA offenses can be rather expensive for health care companies. Initially, the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule within the omnibus set of regulation requires entities and any afflicted company partners to inform clients following a data breach. In addition to the notification expenses, health care companies can experience fines after HIPAA audits mandated by the HITECH Act and performed by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Providers might then deal with criminal charges originating from offenses of the HIPAA privacy and security guidelines.

Organizations can reduce their threat of regulative action through HIPAA compliance training programs. The OCR has 6 curricula on adhering to the privacy and security guidelines; a variety of consultancies and training groups provide programs as well. Healthcare providers may then decide to produce their own training programs, which frequently incorporates each company’s present HIPAA privacy and security policies, the HITECH Act, mobile phone management processes and other suitable standards.

While there is no main HIPAA compliance accreditation program, training business uses accreditation qualifications to show an understanding of the standards and policies defined by the act.

Is drug addiction considered a disability?

Filing for Social Security Disability with a Drug Addiction Diagnosis is not possible at this moment to get Social Security Disability advantages based exclusively on Drug Addiction. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not grant disability benefits to individuals with disabilities that have been triggered or intensified by addiction.

If Drug Addiction is considered immaterial to your disability, it is possible that the SSA will give your disability claim. Nevertheless, if the SSA finds that your addiction primarily impacts your impairment, it will not grant your application for impairment advantages.

Does short term disability cover rehab?

Direct costs of drug and alcohol rehabilitation will typically be covered by most health insurance plans. But you may be asking how you can afford to leave work to enter a treatment facility. Your everyday living expenses will continue, but what about your income? When it comes to short term disability insurance may cover drug rehabilitation. Policy exclusion language is the first item to consider when deciding whether your short-term disability policy covers drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Every private policy will include a list of items excluded from coverage. Read your policy carefully and look for language addressing mental illness, and addiction recovery.

There is no exact answer to whether every short-term disability policy covers drug and alcohol addiction. Each insurer is different. Each policy issued by an insurer contains different policy exclusions. Some do, and some do not. Some do under specific circumstances.

Don’t Let Money Hit the Breaks

Even though people seeking addiction treatment have comfort in the knowledge that there is job security during their medical leave for addiction, there is still the obstacle of financial hardship since the FMLA is an unpaid leave. However, there are solutions to this problem. For instance, under certain conditions, employers can choose to substitute accrued paid leave (such as sick or vacation leave) for FMLA leave while you are in rehab for your drug or alcohol addiction. If this is not an option for you, there may be funding through private or disability insurances available.

If you have the funds available, you should plan ahead of time on how you will pay your bills, some ideas are to designate a family member or friend that you 100% trust and have a list of the bills you need paid and how to access your funds. An easier way to handle your finances is to have them paid ahead of time or have them automatically taken out of your account. There are many different options that can help you handle this stress while in recovery.

Make That Call

Addiction is tough, and making the commitment to get help is never easy. However, people seeking assistance for their addictions should consider FMLA leave or HIPPA laws and see what options are available to them. Thanks to FMLA leave and HIPPA laws, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for many addicts.

If you are considering entering rehab for your addiction, please call now. Our admissions coordinators will help you with all of the forms needed to help you qualify to use FMLA or HIPPA laws to get the addiction treatment you need.

Returning to Work After Drug Rehab

An extensive drug or alcohol rehabilitation process makes the addict feel normal enough that he or she can return to their normal life style. If you have left your addiction behind you and have finally decided to re-enter the normal world with zeal and courage, then you will have to display your mental power and face the world. The good news is that by the time you try and take your first step after rehabilitation, you have already gotten better.

Reconciling the problems that you will face upon completing rehab will depend on your willpower. If you take all these problems personally, you might once again seek refuge in drugs or alcohol and this is less than desirable.

There will be pressure at home, at work and in daily life routines. Your family, friends and co-workers might look over your shoulder to make sure you are not indulging in the habit and this might irritate you. But, if you take this attitude positively, chances are you would be able to take the pressure and tag along with them.

Originally published at The Recover.

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