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Can you Keep your Job while in Rehab? Balancing Work and Addiction Treatment


“I can’t miss work.” 

People often delay starting their drug or alcohol treatment. They do this because they are scared of losing their job or delaying career goals. Many are also afraid that revealing an addiction disorder to their employer will get them fired.

The effects of a person’s addiction often cause more damage to their work than the time off needed for treatment. In reality, many employers find it in their best interest to assist their employees in getting the help they need. Studies show that employees with untreated substance use disorders miss more work than their peers. However, those in recovery who participated in treatment programs miss fewer days than even the general workforce.

Are anxieties about work keeping you from starting a program? Here are a few things to consider that may help ease your worries.

Employee Assistance Plans

Many companies provide access to addiction treatment resources through an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP). An EAP may offer mental health and counseling services, referrals to clinical professionals, and other resources for employees. EAPs are there to encourage employees to reach out for help without fear of being penalized. Given that the employee meets the specific terms and requirements of the company’s program. 

Rehab & FMLA

Fortunately, for some who need to take a leave of absence for inpatient drug or alcohol rehab, federal laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), may protect their job if they meet the criteria.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor under FMLA, “treatment for substance abuse may be a serious health condition if the conditions for inpatient care and/or continuing treatment are met. FMLA leave may only be taken for substance abuse treatment provided by a healthcare provider or by a provider of health care services on referral by a health care provider.”

Substance addiction disorders can potentially meet the requirements for a serious health condition under FMLA. The employee may be protected if they have worked for a participating company for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and is at a company with 50 or more employees who work within 75 miles.

Note that not everyone with a substance use disorder is exempt from termination if they take leave for treatment. Your company’s Human Resources professionals or an attorney can confirm how the law applies to your particular situation.

Outpatient Rehab Options

For continuing care after inpatient treatment, or if recommended by a professional as the starting point in your treatment plan, an outpatient rehab program can provide flexibility with your schedule. 

Treatment facilities generally offer outpatient rehab in morning and evening sessions throughout the week. Making it easier for patients to engage in their everyday work and family responsibilities. Additionally, telehealth options may be available, adding additional convenience.

Though it may be a challenge to balance work and a treatment program, it should not stop you from seeking help. The goal of addiction treatment is to help you find recovery to regain your health, productivity, and, most importantly, your life. 

From answering your questions about programming to helping you navigate the return-to-work process, the professionals at Bradford are here 24/7 to help you get the care you need. Speak to a recovery advisor today: Live Chat or call 888-SOBER-40