Treatment While Keeping Your Job
"Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself." - Galatians 6:1
Confronting addiction is a devastating challenge, throwing the world as you know it off kilter. This is especially true when you're ready to face the music and finally seek assistance. Admitting a need for help can be a steep, hazardous mountain to climb, and getting to the top is a journey that takes many substance abusers years to complete.
As a Christian, it's natural to struggle with coming to terms with your addiction. Reconciling an act of sin with your faith may mean confronting some uncomfortable truths, bringing to light just how hard it can be to stay true to God's word. Many Christians feel as though addiction is a personal failing or a punishment for wavering beliefs, but in reality, anyone, no matter their religious views, can fall victim to the grips of addiction. Rehabilitation programs are here for all, providing strength and stability regardless of faith.
However, actually making the decision to attend a treatment program can be easier said than done. After the personal reflection required to truly understand the depths of an addiction and the importance of assistance, many substance abusers run into one last major roadblock on the road to rehabilitation: the demands of a job.
For the average American who depends on the income from a job to pay for insurance, food, housing, and other costs of living, giving up work for weeks or even months can be a horrifying prospect. And it's true – most landlords and grocery stores won't accept IOUs from time spent in treatment, creating a painful tug-of-war for breadwinners, parents, and partners considering inpatient rehabilitation.
Luckily, there are protections in place for you and those like you, offering a way to attend therapy and still maintain your career without the risk of judgment, retaliation, or termination. In fact, over 75% of those with substance abuse issues have jobs, putting you in good company. With Road to Freedom and the protections offered by the federal government and your employer, you can get the help you need without putting your career at risk.
Disease, accident, or injury can happen to anyone. In an effort to accommodate employees, the United States government offers numerous protections for those who need to seek treatment, whether for a chronic illness like cancer or a condition like addiction.
All employees who work for a local or federal government agency or a private company of 15 employees or more are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act. In conjunction, these two pieces of legislature offer the security you need to seek treatment for any health challenge, including rehabilitation for substance abuse.
Under the ADA, employees who enter an inpatient program are protected under law and cannot be fired for any reasons related to addiction or treatment, even in the case of excessive absence. If termination occurs, employees are able to file a charge of discrimination in retribution.
FMLA allows all qualifying employees to take up to 12 weeks off per year to handle personal or family health issues. However, time taken under FMLA is generally not paid unless employers allow for full or partial pay during medical leave, which may make taking time off harder for part-time workers, contractors, and anyone who cannot afford a long period without pay.
Those who cannot afford to take time off to seek treatment may qualify for disability benefits to help mitigate the challenges in leaving work. However, qualifying for disability can be an uphill battle that may take months or even years to accomplish. Furthermore, employees seeking disability must prove that their condition renders work impossible, it will persist for at least a year, and that it provides no way to earn income over the minimum threshold.
It is important to note that the safety net provided by FMLA and ADA only comes into play if explicitly mentioned. If you begin treatment and attempt to use vacation time or sick time without disclosing your condition to your employer, you may not qualify for the protections available and thus may be at risk of termination or demotion. Furthermore, federal protections may not apply if your job performance is affected by drugs or alcohol, like absences, tardiness, mistakes, or inappropriate behavior. As such, it's important to come forward as soon as possible, letting your employer know that a health issue is at the root your troubles at work.
Preparing for Treatment
The idea of speaking to your employer about drug or alcohol abuse may seem awkward or uncomfortable, but it is a necessary part of getting help. Simply leaving for treatment without putting a proper foundation in place may lead to confusion or a lack of protection, so talk with your manager and human resources team as soon as possible.
Before coming forward, it may be worth reviewing your company handbook for specific guidance on drug and alcohol abuse. In some companies, for instance, using substances on company time or while on company property is grounds for immediate termination. Confirm procedures for medical leave as well, ensuring you leave no stone unturned throughout the process of preparing for treatment.
As soon as you are ready to move forward, schedule a sit-down meeting in a private location. Disclose the nature of your condition, your plans for treatment, and your wish to utilize the protections offered under ADA and FMLA. If appropriate, stress the importance of improving work performance and your desire to provide as much value as possible to your company.
Regardless of the rules governing your workplace, your employer is required to maintain strict confidentiality as related to health and medical records. Once you admit your need for treatment, your employer will be legally obligated to keep such information private.
Putting Health and Faith First
A drive to succeed in the workplace is a major motivation for millions of Americans, but career success isn't everything. Your health and well-being – mental, physical, and spiritual – should be top priorities, and ignoring a need for treatment in favor of a few more hours at the office can put your future and your life at risk.
At Road to Freedom, we believe that health should be your top focus. Without seeking help, it may not be possible to recover from addiction, providing undue threats to job success, bonds with friends and family, and your faith. You may also be pulled even further away from Christ's message, resorting to behavior like cheating, lying, or stealing to feed your compulsion.
When you're ready to take charge of your life, your career, and your relationship with God, rehabilitation is the best possible way to start. With Road to Freedom, you can focus on the things that matter most, putting you back on a righteous path.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care
You may be wondering, "what about outpatient care?" After all, isn't an outpatient program a convenient way to seek treatment without compromising regular responsibilities?
In some ways, yes, an outpatient care program can be extremely beneficial, allowing you to balance a recovery with the demands of daily life. However, outpatient treatment is generally recommended as a follow-up to inpatient rehabilitation, not the first step in your care. In order to improve your chances of success and make amends for the problems caused by addiction, receiving help in a supportive, medically supervised environment with a focus on Christ's message is the best course of action. Outpatient programs may provide future assistance after you have successfully completed residential therapy, but learning the tenets of sobriety, deepening your relationship with God, and addressing the root causes of addiction are necessary for long-term recovery.
Your career may be important, but your health matters even more. Don't let fear over your employment situation stand in the way of getting the help you need. With God's love and the balance between spiritual and medical care we can provide, Road to Freedom is prepared to offer the guidance and support you deserve. Please contact us today at (844) 402-3605 to learn more.
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the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval.