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Tips for Maintaining Your Job While Seeking Treatment for Addiction

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Realizing that you need help with your substance abuse can bring about a lot of anxiety. Not only are you wondering what to expect from going to rehab, but you’re also concerned with how seeking treatment will impact your personal and professional life. Many suffering from addiction battle with the idea of talking to their employers about their addiction for fear they’ll lose their jobs. The good news is there are laws in place to protect you as you tend to your health.

Suggested Reading: Find And Keep Your Dream Job, The Definitive Careers Guide From Forbes

Find a Treatment Program

Before you approach your employer about your addiction, you want to first figure out which treatment program will work best for you. Would you prefer to seek treatment as an outpatient? Or would you prefer an inpatient program which would require you to stay on campus for a given period of time? Write down all the factors that are important to you for treatment and begin some comparative research to determine which rehab facilities offer the best option. A recovery clinic like Hotel California By The Sea specializes in treating business professionals and would be able to provide you with support and resources on how to maintain your career while getting help.

Know Your Rights

Once you’ve determined which treatment program will work best for you, it is a good idea to know what your rights are as an employee. There are laws in place that can ultimately protect your career as you seek treatment. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA):

ADA – The ADA is designed to protect employees from being discriminated against because they have a disability. Employees suffering from a chemical dependency for instance would be covered under this act. Keep in mind however; this only protects those who are addicted to legal substances such as alcohol or pain killers.

Under this act, your employer must allow you to keep your job with the understanding that you will be able to complete your responsibilities competently and to the same standard of the rest of the staff. So if you’re dealing with an alcohol addiction but can perform as you have been, your employer cannot fire you.

FMLA – the FMLA mandates that employers give employees a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. You are also entitled to receive health insurance during this time. When you return to work from rehab, you would be entitled to return to your original position or receive a position with your employer of equivalence. This law works only for those seeking inpatient care in a rehab that requires you to stay overnight. While you would not be paid during this time off, you would maintain a job.

Talk to Your Employer

Talking to your employer can be difficult, especially when the topic is as sensitive as addiction. However, in order to keep your job and maintain a good reputation with your employer it is important to have this conversation. Here are some tips to talking with your supervisor:

  • State the Facts – Addiction is certainly an emotional topic, however, you don’t need to go overboard with the emotion as you talk to your employer. Explain what the issue is, that you’ll need to go into treatment, and information about the rehab program you intend to participate in.
  • Ask About Resources – to show that you’re being proactive; talking to your employer about resources or references of help that the company offers is a good idea. This may include counseling paid for by the company and other resources that can help improve your chances of fully recovering from addiction.
  • Find Out What Your Responsibilities Are – Be sure that you find out which type of leave is best for you to take and what the next steps are. Your employer may ask you to delegate tasks to coworkers, complete certain projects before your leave, fill out necessary paperwork, or retrieve documentation from a doctor. You want to have all your ducts in a row so that you don’t leave room for termination.

Dealing with addiction can be challenging. However, it’s certainly commendable that you’re taking the first steps towards healing. If you’re worried about the state of your job as you seek treatment, find comfort in knowing that there are laws in place to protect you. Conduct a bit of research about potential programs, learn your rights as an employee, and lastly talk with your employer right away so that you can come to some resolve while you’re in treatment.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,


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