One reason many people struggle with an addiction alone is that they believe that entering rehab could have negative consequences on their life. Even if they do get sober, they believe they might come out of rehab without a job or having lost connections with friends and family.
In truth, friends or family members who desert you simply because you admitted to a problem and attempted to seek a healthy, legal and even Christian resolution to it aren’t always someone you want around anyway. When it comes to a career, though, it might seem understandable if an employer has to replace you with someone new if you’ll be gone a few weeks or even months due to rehab. Fortunately, the law might be on your side in protecting your job.
Federal acts that might protect your job during rehab
Both the federal Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act provide some protection against discrimination for individuals who are in recovery for drug treatment. To that end, covered employees can’t be let go from their jobs simply because they entered a recovery program. To be eligible for this protection under the ADA, you must work for:
- A federal government agency
- A state or local government agency
- A private company with at least 15 employees
The Rehabilitation Act only applies to federal employers or any other employer who receives revenue or financial support in the form of federal money, such as through a grant, aid or government contract.
Because the ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodation to support someone who has a disability, some employers will hold a job space for individuals going through rehab. This is because, in some cases, chronic addiction is seen as impairing a person’s ability to function in an otherwise normal manner.
Another federal law that might help protect your job if you enter a rehab program is the Family and Medical Leave Act. It affords covered employees the ability to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period if a serious health condition requires treatment. Substance abuse is covered under FMLA. Depending on your employer’s policies, you might also be able to use accrued paid time off or vacation time to cover some of the leave, ensuring you or your family is still paid.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a free, downloadable booklet detailing the rights many works have under federal laws with regard to taking time for rehab.
Other factors in job loss due to drug or alcohol addiction
It is important to note that drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t get you off the hook for being let go for other reasons, and testing positive for drugs at work is often a reason for immediate termination as listed in human resource policies. If your employer finds you engaged in any illegal activity on the job, they also usually have the right to fire you.
Other reasons that you might be let go that could relate to drug or alcohol use include:
- Being constantly late or absent from work because you are using
- A drop in work performance related to chemical use or withdrawals
- Aggressive or other inappropriate behavior in the workplace related to your drug or alcohol use
Once you cross certain lines with your employer, it can be more difficult to make a case for returning to work after rehab. This is one reason that it’s often better to confront the problem sooner rather than later. You might be worried about losing your job if you go to rehab, but an even bigger worry should be losing your job if you remain in the cycle of addiction.
Choosing sobriety over career success
Many people make the choice to chase career success over sobriety. At The Road to Freedom, we believe this is a mistake for many reasons. First, it puts you in the position of battling addiction alone, which is a good way to lose that battle. You might find success initially, but eventually you’ll be found out or something will go wrong, and at that point, you’ll only have more to lose.
For Christians, this path is especially bad because it involves acting in so many ways that goes against Scripture and Christian beliefs. To hold onto success while abusing drugs and alcohol, you may have to lie. Eventually, you could find yourself cheating, stealing or mistreating others just to get the next high and hide your addiction.
At Road to Freedom, we work with you to find a path back to sobriety so you can pick up career pieces or move into a completely new — and drug free — phase of life. You might be surprised how many employers are willing to help you make such a step, especially if you make it a point to seek help before things get too bad.
No matter where you are in addiction, though, or what has gone wrong, it’s never too late. Call us today for more information on our rehab program. (844) 402-3605.